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How Comparison Obliterates Our Brilliance

  Apples & Oranges - They Don't Compare
Photo Credit: TheBusyBrain via Compfight

We compare ourselves day in and day out. That’s the kiss of death to our own genius  - Jennifer Louden 

Comparison is a rather vicious trap. It doesn’t really lead us anywhere productive. Yet it’s something most of us have done throughout our lives.  Comparison obliterates our inner brilliance and keeps us from flying as close to the sun as we possibly can.

People at the Top of their Game Don’t Keep Score

We’ve been taught to keep score in some form or another ever since we were kids. In the classroom it’s grades. On the soccer field or basketball court it’s points. In the “real” world it’s your bank balance, the car you drive or the house you live in. I’ve noticed something about genuinely happy and successful people, the ones who play at the top of their game. They don’t keep score.  They write for the love of writing, read for the love of books, and sing of the love music. They see their life’s work not as tapestry of everlasting do lists and accomplishments to cross off , but marks they leave on humanity…. finger paint masterpieces from their time in the school of life.

The most successful people, the ones with the competitive edge, don’t look to happiness as some distant reward for their achievements, nor grind through their days on neutral or negative; they are the ones who capitalize on the positive and reap the rewards at every turn – Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage

We’re somewhat obsessed with measurements and metrics. But this obsession doesn’t really help us. Instead of striving to be extraordinary, we strive to meet the standards by which we’re being measured:

However, when you stop keeping score for a while, the score seems to start going up on its own.

Don’t Compare Apples and Oranges

One of the things you may not think about when you compare yourself is the there is always somebody better and always somebody worse. To top it off many of us compare apples to oranges.  I’ve compared my career to my younger sister’s. She’s a doctor and I’m an online marketer. It’s not exactly a fair comparison because the only  commonality is that we’re related.  When we compare too much we start to lose sight of our individuality and what makes us special.  The fact that we’re all different is a beautiful thing.  Why would you want to be just like anybody else? It’s easy to look at somebody else’s life and think they have it all figured out and that it’s better than yours.

The Surface Deception

The surface of somebody’s life is quite deceiving. We live in a world today where what we’re seeing is a filtered version of somebody’s life. You can’t always trust what you see. There’s no photo album for somebody’s inner turmoil on their Facebook profile. We see the good the stuff and we paint a picture of someone’s life.

Potential Antidotes to the Misery of Comparison

I’m not a psychologist or MD, just a student  in the school of life.  Experience has shown me that the closest thing to an antidote for this vicious trap of comparison is gratitude.  A few days ago I picked up Shawn Acor’s book the Happiness Advantage and started some simple experiments that he suggested:

1) Every single day write down 3 things that you are grateful for.

When you write down a list of “three good things” that happened that day, your brain will be forced to scan the last 24 hours for potential positives—things that brought small or large laughs, feelings of accomplishment at work, a strengthened connection with family, a glimmer of hope for the future. In just five minutes a day, this trains the brain to become more skilled at noticing and focusing on possibilities for personal and professional growth, and seizing opportunities to act on them. – Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage

2) Watch something that makes you laugh.

Just a short humorous video clip, a quick conversation with a friend, or even a small gift of candy can produce significant and immediate boosts in cognitive power and job performance. – Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage

3) Exercise

When you start moving physically the voice in your head (which gets its rocks off on comparison) becomes quiet. It loses its power and you become happier.

As you free yourself from the chains of comparison, you’ll soar beyond your wildest dreams.  How have you overcome the vicious trap of comparison?

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