We all know this phrase: Comparison is the thief of joy. It has been firstly said by Theodore Roosevelt, and it has been said by many others since then.
It is such an easy thing to do, to compare ourselves to others. And it is so hard to stop doing that.
Although it is hard, it is an important thing to do because, as mentioned in the heading, it can steal our joy.
We see someone who is further along in their career or relationship and we wonder why we haven’t achieved the same level of success. We compare our own journeys to those of others and find them wanting.
Summary: It’s important to remember that we are all on different paths. We all have different experiences and we are all at different points in our journeys. Comparison is only going to steal our joy, so it’s best to just focus on our own lives and not compare ourselves to others.
What does Comparison is The Thief of Joy mean?
The phrase “Comparison is the thief of joy” basically means that comparing ourselves to others can steal our happiness.
It’s easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others, especially if we see them as being further ahead than us in some way. But comparison only leads to feelings of envy and inferiority, which can steal our joy.
Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we should focus on our own progress and celebrate our own accomplishments. By doing this, we can keep our joy intact, so to say.
The good side of the comparison
While it’s true that comparison can often lead to negative feelings, it can also be a motivator.
Throughout history, people have used the comparison to spur themselves on to greater things.
For example, if we compare ourselves to someone who is more successful than us, it can inspire us to work harder to achieve our own goals.
Or if we compare ourselves to someone who is less fortunate than us, it can remind us to be grateful for what we have.
The same goes for the economy. If there would have been no comparison, we probably wouldn’t have access to technology and other things we take for granted today.
So while comparison can be the thief of joy, it can also be the driving force behind progress.
So if the comparison is a motivator for you and not a negative feeling, then it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just be mindful of how you’re comparing yourself to others, and make sure that it’s coming from a positive place.
The bad side of the comparison
Unfortunately, more often than not, the comparison does lead to negative feelings.
When we compare ourselves to others, we’re usually comparing our worst to their best. This is because we tend to focus on other people’s positive qualities and downplay our own.
For example, we might compare an Instagram picture that has been edited and filtered to ourselves when we feel down.
Of course, the Instagram picture is going to look better! It’s just a second of someone’s life EDITED, so don’t even dare to compare yourself to that person.
Another downside of comparison is that it can make us feel like we’re not good enough. And that you will never be good enough.
This can lead to a vicious cycle of negative thinking that can be hard to break out of.
Moreover, comparison leads to:
- making us feel that our efforts are never enough.
- discouragement from taking risks.
- the feeling of isolation and loneliness.
- lower life satisfaction.
The comparison makes us less productive and more frustrated
I want to talk more about this disadvantage of comparison because I think it is very important and not talked a lot about.
The comparison can make us less productive because we’re too busy comparing ourselves to others instead of focusing on our own work.
We are constantly thinking about that one person who is doing better than us and how we can catch up to them.
This comparison creates a lot of frustration, which can lead to us giving up altogether.
So not only does the comparison make us feel bad, but it can also stop us from being productive.
Why do we compare ourselves to others?
There are some reasons why we compare ourselves to others. Some of them include:
- Social media. In the age of social media, we are constantly bombarded with images and posts about other people’s lives. We see pictures of our friends on vacation, at parties, with their families, and it’s easy to start feeling like we’re not doing enough or that our lives are boring in comparison. (It can lead to depression)
- The need for approval. We compare ourselves to others because we want to feel accepted and liked. If we think someone else is better than us, it can make us feel inferior.
- The fear of missing out. We don’t want to miss out on what everyone else seems to be doing. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real phenomenon, and it leads us to constantly compare our lives to others.
- Low self-esteem. When we have low self-esteem, we tend to compare ourselves to others as a way of putting ourselves down. We think that if we can find someone who is worse off than us, it will make us feel better about ourselves.
- The need for more. We compare ourselves to others because we’re never satisfied with what we have. We always want more, and we think that if we can just have what someone else has, we’ll be happy.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most people compare themselves to others, and it’s something that we all struggle with. The important thing is to be aware of it and to try to find ways to stop comparing ourselves.
What if we stopped comparing?
Why are we never content? We always want more money, a bigger house, and a nicer car. We compare our lives to those around us and find ourselves lacking.
We can never be content if we are always comparing ourselves to others. We see what they have and want it for ourselves.
But what if we stopped comparing? What if we only measured our happiness against our own previous levels of happiness?
Suddenly, we might find that we are quite content after all. We have enough money to live comfortably, a roof over our heads, and food on the table.
Maybe, just maybe (but very possible), contentment is possible if we stop comparing ourselves to others.
I remember finally finding contentment in my own life when I stopped comparing myself to others. All I did was just delete my Instagram account.
I was surprised at how much better I felt. I no longer saw what everyone else was doing and compared it to my own life. I was no longer comparing my life at 20 with someones else’s life at 30.
I am just living my own life and enjoying it.
And you know what? I am quite content with that.
Ways to stop comparing ourselves to others
1. Accept yourself for who you are
We are each unique individuals with our own strengths and weaknesses.
Constantly comparing ourselves to others prevents us from appreciating our own uniqueness. It also leads to feelings of jealousy and resentment. If we want to be truly happy, we need to learn to love and appreciate ourselves just the way we are.
This is not always easy, but it’s essential if we want to be content with our lives.
Instead of worrying about what others have that we don’t, we should focus on being the best that we can be. When we do this, we’ll find that we have more than enough to be happy about.
2. Be grateful for what you have
We forget about all of the good things we have going for us and instead focus on everything we don’t have.
However, it’s important to take the time to appreciate all the blessings we have, even if they seem small.
After all, it’s the little things that often make up the biggest part of our lives. A kind word from a friend, a sunny day after a long winter, or a quiet moment to enjoy a cup of coffee can all make a big difference in our happiness.
So next time you find yourself comparing to others, take a step back and remember all of the good things you have going for you.
Related: 101 Things To Be Grateful For
3. Don’t compare your worst to everyone else’s best
Social media only shows us the highlights of people’s lives. We see the best pictures and the most exciting moments, and it’s easy to start thinking that everyone else’s life is better than ours.
We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. Everyone has their own struggles and problems, even if they don’t show it on social media.
That is why it’s important to remember that we’re only seeing one side of the story. When you find yourself comparing your worst to everyone else’s best, try to remind yourself that you don’t know the whole story.
4. Keep things in perspective
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget about what’s really important in life.
When we’re comparing ourselves to others, we often focus on things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
For instance, we might compare our looks to someone else’s, or worry about having that waffle maker.
But in the end, these things don’t really matter. What matters most is our relationships, our health, and our happiness.
5. Focus on your own journey
Comparison leads us to compare our lives to others and feel like we’re falling behind. Which makes the statement “Comparison is the thief of joy” true once again.
But remember that life is not a competition. We’re each on our own journey, and we should focus on our own progress, not someone else’s.
It doesn’t matter where someone else is in their journey. What matters is where you are in yours.
6. Find your own happiness
The only person who can make you truly happy is yourself. So instead of looking to others for happiness, focus on finding it within yourself.
Do things that make you happy, and surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself.
Looking for happiness in material things or other people will only lead to disappointment. True happiness comes from within.
7. Be content with what you have
We live in a world of abundance, but we often take what we have for granted and we think that we need more to be happy.
Instead of always wanting more, we should learn to appreciate what we already have. Because actually you have everything that you need in order to live a happy life, and that is what really matters.
Contentment is a key to happiness. So if you want to be truly happy, you need to learn to be content with what you have.
Related: How to Be Happy With What You Have
8. Switch your mindset
While it is true that comparison is the thief of joy, you can switch your mindset towards making it a motivator.
Instead of being upset or angry about someone else having a nice job or a cool food processor, see it as a motivator.
Use it as inspiration to work hard and achieve your own goals.
Remember, the only person you’re in competition with is yourself. So instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on bettering yourself.
9. No one is perfect
Even that girl that looks like her life is perfect and she has everything going for her. Yeah, she’s not perfect either.
She might be good at something, but bad at something else.
I remember watching a girl on Youtube whose life looked just perfect. Having the best career as a Youtuber, a lovely family, homeschooling kids, a clean house, and babies who sleep through the night at 6 weeks. All that stuff. But then I realized that she works so hard that she has no time to get out of the house, for real. She has no social life. No time for anything.
The point is, that nobody is perfect. Everyone has to sacrifice something in order to achieve something else. Everyone has their own problems and struggles, even if they don’t show it on social media or in real life.
10. It’s all just thoughts
In the end, it’s all just thoughts. Thoughts that we have in our heads. And we can choose what thoughts we want to focus on.
You can definitely control them and choose not to have them. So instead of letting comparison steal your joy, focus on thoughts that make you happy.
Just take deep breaths and relax. Focus on something else, like a summer evening with your friends in the park.
And comparison will fade away.
It’s a waste of time, anyway
Comparing ourselves to others is a fruitless exercise that can only lead to feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. In other words, again, the comparison is the thief of joy.
It’s important to focus on our own lives and what we can do to make ourselves happy.
After all, life is too short to spend time worrying about what other people have.
If you don’t think that life is short, just spend some time with someone who is terminally ill. You’ll quickly realize that life is precious and that we should make the most of it.
I have a 9 months old son. And sometimes I think that I was like him. And that he will have children in some decades and I will be older. Like my mom. In no time.
You never know where life leads us. So why spend time comparing ourselves to others when we could be living our own lives to the fullest?
Comparison is the thief of joy. It is so true.
The less you compare yourself to others, the happier you will be.
So instead of comparing, focus on your own life and what you can do to make yourself happy. What is the career that you wish for? Work towards it.
What kind of life do you want in 5 years? 10 years? Start planning for it instead of spending time comparing yourself to others.
Do not be biased by what you see on social media. Just think of your own life and journey on this earth.
You will be so much happier. I promise.
I hope this article helped you in some way. And I hope you are one step closer to being truly happy.
Have a comparison-free day!