Comparison is the death of joy. – Mark Twain
Growing Up Playing The Comparison Game
I grew up in a society that loved to play the comparison game.
From an early age, my friends and I would constantly compete with each other:
- Who has the most expensive trainers?
- Who had the most friends?
- Who’s the best at football?
- Who has the highest grades?
I took the very comparison game to university, too.
I’d spend hours scrolling through my news feed, comparing my life and what I had achieved to others. Sometimes it felt nice and I was satisfied, but more often than not, that short term feeling would fade and jealousy or some other negative emotion would slowly creep in.
After University, I took the comparison game travelling.
In those lonely 8 hour bus rides, I’d ask myself: What if I’m falling behind and wasting my years away? What if so and so gets ahead of me? What if they become more happier than me?
Deep down I knew the comparison game was toxic. I often felt resentful, frustrated and ungrateful for what I did have in my life.
Something had to change.
My Early Days Travelling
When I first started travelling, I was blown away by the range of different people I was encountering from entirely different countries, cultures and backgrounds to me.
I’d never experienced anything like it in my life.
Whether they were painting, writing, starting a business, finding their purpose or simply wandering, everybody was on their own journey with a completely different path.
I tried to continue playing the game, comparing my life with theirs, but it didn’t work.
Unlike school and university, there was no longer any universal metric for comparison, and I realised that the people I was meeting were insanely different to me and couldn’t be put in boxes.
It turned out that the comparison game I’d been playing all my life was over.
Shit hit the fan.
Travel gave me the wake up call, and helped me realise that any comparison with others was fundamentally flawed.
It became clear to me that there would always be someone with more, and unless I wanted to be perpetually unhappy, I needed to find a new metric for comparison.
A More Sustainable Metric
In the past I used the comparison game to push me forward in life. It was useful in some respects, so I figured I still needed something I could compare myself to.
I came up with a new and more reliable metric:
Comparing my current self with my previous self.
This was the metric I really wanted to use all along.
Using this metric meant I was no longer fighting with the world to be the best but rather leveraging my past for ambition instead.
I begun asking myself questions such as:
- What skills have you learnt in the last six months?
- How much have you shared with others recently?
- What kind of person were you a year ago?
- How much have you loved?
- What impact have you had on the world?
- How has your vision changed?
There was a key difference now. With the old comparison game I was always coming from a place of scarcity and not having enough.
But now, by comparing myself to my previous self, I was coming from a place of abundance.
Years and years of playing the comparison game takes its toll and it doesn’t disappear just like that.
Sometimes ego will kick in, and I’ll momentarily start playing the comparison game again, until I consciously snap myself out of it.
But that’s OK, because I realise that deep conditioning takes time to overcome, and that I’m moving towards a more sustainable metric for comparison.
So to wrap it up, the moral of the story is:
Spend your time looking within, reflecting on your previous self and using this as leverage to improve yourself rather than than spending years wasting your time comparing your life to someone else’s.
Thanks for reading and all the best,
Daniel Beaumont, Thursday 25th February 2016
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.
I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.
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