The Comparison Game

“Life is never as good or as bad as it seems.” -Cameron Strang, founder of RELEVANT Magazine

I like this thought. Even when things are going exceptionally well, when everything is coming up roses and daisies and tulips, and you’re on cloud 9.7…there’s still something, even something tiny, that’s going to be a little off. Not quite as perfect as it could be. Which could be a little depressing–no matter how hard you try, things will never be perfect.

…but on the more uplifting side, even when things are going terribly, terribly wrong, when every piece of life seems to be falling apart, when work is stressful and relationships are broken and painful and you feel like you’re going nowhere…there’s still something, even something as small as finding a really good book or enjoying some nice weather…that goes right.

The problem comes when we play the comparison game. Which I am quite, quite good at. Because even if things are going right, there’s also someone who seems to have more pieces of their life together, or maybe just particular pieces that I am envious of. And if things are rough in my life, there’s seems to be even more people around who seem to have everything together, even though really, they don’t.

“If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, and that is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.” ~Montesquieu 

Comparison is not the way to a happy, fulfilled life. Instead, I’m learning (and experiencing) that it is a fast track to a not-so-pleasant land of discontentment and frustration.

Because yes, it’s true that I do not have a full-time job. It’s true that I live with my parents. It’s true that I’m single. It’s true that I don’t have very much money to do many of the things I’d like to. And when I compare myself to people around me, be it family, friends, fellow church members, or the other customers at the coffee shop, I will see people with full-time jobs, apartments and houses, fiances and spouses, and money and opportunities that I do not have.

But where’s the point in that? I am being continually reminded that the life I live is mine, and mine only. It is not the life of the people around me. We have different paths, and that is okay. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. If we all did things exactly the same, the world would not be a very interesting place. And if we did a little less comparing, and a little more living, I think we’d all be a bit happier.

Til next time…