We all struggle with comparison at one time or another—in fact, it’s one of the most common and destructive daily habits that humans possess. Mark Twain once said that comparison is the death of joy. We compare our jobs, relationships, clothes, homes, Instagram followers—just to name a few—to those of friends, acquaintances and strangers (often without even realizing it!). But it’s important to remember that we’re usually comparing our reality to another’s highlight reel. It’s easy to compare our beginning to someone else’s middle, especially if we’re not aware of his or her struggles and challenges.
On the flip side, comparison can actually be helpful if we make a conscious effort to go about it the right way. Instead of succumbing to envy or negativity, think to yourself, “I really admire that quality in him/her—what can I do to become more like that?” It’s all about perception, folks! Below are a few tricks that have helped me overcome unhealthy comparison.
When we focus on the positive, amazing things will happen. Instead of looking so intently at the lives of others, look at yourself! Take time to actively appreciate all of your amazing qualities, memories and experiences—and write them down! Keeping a gratitude journal has been scientifically proven to relieve stress and worry. I always keep mine nearby so that it’s within arm’s reach when I’m having a ‘moment.’
Go for a walk.
(Is anyone else humming the words to Passion Pit’s “Take a Walk”?) Sometimes a stroll is all you need! Get up and move a bit. Clear your head. Change your scenery—even if you only have time to walk to the other side of the room.
Be positive and proactive.
As I mentioned above, comparison can be a good thing when it leads to self-improvement. Ask yourself what others possess that you want for yourself. Maybe it’s a fabulous work ethic or a killer workout routine or superhuman organizational skills. Instead of wallowing in jealousy or resentment, start setting attainable goals that will help you achieve those things.
If social media is feeding your unhealthy comparison habits—and there’s a good chance it is—try to begin limiting your screen time. Turn your phone off at least an hour before bed, and wait an hour to turn it on after waking up each morning. Instead of scrolling Twitter from bed after your alarm goes off, take a few moments to soak up some of the real beauty that surrounds you. Go for a run or sit outside with a cup of coffee. This is a great routine to get into—I guarantee that you’ll start to notice a positive difference in your mental health!
Strive to be the best version of yourself.
The most important person to compare yourself to is you! Compete with yourself, set attainable goals and work hard to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually (breathing exercises are the best!). You’ll contribute not only to your own well-being but also to that of those around you. It’s a win-win!
Written and photographed by Arin Agase