Why You Compare and How to Be Content With What You Have

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Ever heard of the phrase ‘keeping up with the Joneses’?

If you have not, it simply means living beyond your means to keep up with your neighbors. These typically involve buying something you cannot afford or need for the sole purpose of trying to impress others.

This kind of behavior can best be summed up by the phrase FOMO i.e. fear of missing out. It arises when a person is anxious about not having someone or something, which then often causes him/her to behave irrationally.

But why exactly do we feel the need to always make comparisons? 

Why Do You Compare?

The next time that you compare something, stop and ask yourself the question ‘How much does it really matter?’

1. Fears and Insecurities

It is normal to have fears of not being good enough, personally and/or professionally. But have you forgotten that everyone, including all the experts in their fields, have to start out somewhere?

Most people read the news and see someone famous, rich, or is really good at something that he/she does. What is often ignored is the amount of effort these people invested and the number of failures they encountered to get where they are.

You feel jealous and often think that he/she doesn’t deserve the rewards. But would you feel the same if you were in a similar situation? Would you feel jealous of yourself if you are on the top after making countless sacrifices to get there? Probably not.

If you frequently feel ashamed or bad about yourself when making comparisons, our advice would be to stop. Stop feeling shameful right this moment, and more importantly, stop comparing yourself with others.

Take time out to appreciate all the emotions that you feel without dwelling on them for too long. What you should do instead is to take the necessary steps to move forward because life waits for no one, ever.

Change your belief from life is happening to you to life is happening for you instead. This will allow you to (re)take control of your life and carve out the future that you desire.

2. Jealousy

Many people often use the words envious and jealous interchangeably (and incorrectly). It is important to differentiate the two.

Being envious means that you desire something that others have, whereas being jealous involves having ill will towards others.

For example, you can be envious of that new necklace your co-worker’s boyfriend just bought her, but you should not be jealous and dislike her boyfriend for the same reason.

In short, it is alright to be envious of others but being jealous is something that you should avoid as much as possible.

3. Social Pressure

The proliferation of social media over the past decade has shifted how many of us spend our time. Nowadays, it is unusual to not see people staring at their phones no matter the time and place.

The bad news?

Social media companies are unlikely to loosen their stranglehold on their users anytime soon. In fact, these corporations would like people to spend as much time on their platform(s) as possible just to increase their bottom line.

You need to be aware of this while asking how come nearly all the contents posted on these platforms appear to be so bright and sunny. The truth is most people rarely, if ever, share the bad parts of their lives with others, preferring instead to give the impression that everything is sunshine and rainbows.

These ‘influencers’ will post photos and videos of themselves with things like fancy dresses, million dollar mansions, luxurious high end cars, etc. just to impress others. It’s an endless cycle that viciously feeds on people constantly outdoing each other for fame, money, number of followers, you name it.

This, ultimately, is self-destructive because it doesn’t gel cohesively with reality. It is pointless to compare your journey with others because the only one person that is worth comparing with is yourself.

4. The Desire to Improve

Congratulate yourself if you are comparing due to a desire to want to improve.

Watching somebody who is good at what they do is amazing. Consider how it feels to see a competitor do the impossible. Does that not motivate you to do better? Maybe, and maybe not (but we’ll assume that it does).

Sometimes you just need to look in the mirror and believe that you can live up to your fullest potential. How else will you know what you are truly capable of otherwise?

If you still cannot figure out your best traits, ask your friends and family to identify them for you. Your abilities are unique, and it is never too late to find out what they are.

Being Content With What You Have

Learn to cherish what you have because you came to this world with nothing and will leave with nothing aside from your physical body.

1. Focus On What Matters to You

Paying attention to what is going on around you will help you focus less on meaningless activities, like social comparisons. Instead, shift your attention to things that will make you a better person, like reading a book, meditating, or exercising.

When you are content with life, you will notice yourself not even bothering to compete with others on things. You live life at your own pace because you choose to impress nobody. 

2. Figure Out Where the Comparisons Are Coming From

As horrendous as the comparisons can feel, they can fill a void in that they illuminate a part of our lives that may need some changing.

Improvements come when you are willing to put in the effort to change the things that are hindering your progress in life. Start with where you are and what you have and map out the journey. You will fall time and again on your path to your goal(s) but know that your effort will be worth the pain.

3. Allocate Some Time to Be Thankful

If you have a roof under your head and never starved, consider yourself fortunate because not everyone is so lucky. See how amazing your life is despite the hardship that you have gone through. Always be thankful for everything that has been given to you, knowing how blessed you are. 

If you are constantly contrasting yourself with others, it is difficult to feel thankful since most people feel that more is always better. However, what if what you have and who you are as of now is already sufficient? You can work for what you need while being appreciative of what you have now. 

Be your own ‘you’, love yourself more, and accept yourself for who you are. Your world will feel that much brighter as a result. 

4. Believe That You Are Enough

Believe that you are awesome, and that there is no need to let others’ perception of you shape your behavior.

Others are similarly awesome in their own ways, and it is this uniqueness that makes everyone special.