“Comparison is the Thief of Joy“ – Theodore Roosevelt
Why is Comparison robbing us of our joy? Because we lose the present moment, we attach to stories that aren’t true, and we let the ego take us for a wild ride that is the source of our suffering. Comparing ourselves to others or our past/future selves, leaves us feeling anxious and puts us into a stress response.
I heard this quote, “Comparison is the Thief of Joy!” the other day from a workout buddy, and it stuck with me as a noble truth to remember. Thank you, Theodore.
If you can stop comparing yourself to others, your past self, and your future self, then you will see how amazing and beautiful you are at this moment. Your Anxiety can transform into Joy.
When we are stuck in comparison, the past or the future we miss this one precious beautiful moment. All joy flies out as we one up or one down ourselves. That is when we compare ourselves to others and think, they are better than me, or I am better than them because…
I challenge you to notice today, how many times your mind is in comparison with others, the past, or the future. Check it out. It will blow your mind.
I was doing this exact practice of noticing the other day during my workout. I do F45 where there is a group of people rotating through stations in a room doing interval training with weights and cardio. So I notice my mind looking at others and comparing myself. Unsurprisingly, the stories flow nonstop.
Then notice the emotions that follow from worry, anxiety, frustration, anger, or fear. Where is the joy in that moment?
I paused my attachment to the stories for a moment by becoming aware of them. I took a step back and took the role of the observer of my own mind. Therefore, I was able to notice the cascade of thoughts past and future that arise. Surprisingly, humans have over 6000 thoughts a day so the mind works very quickly. Vulnerably, here are some I noticed during a 1-minute time frame.
I don’t attach to all of these, some are old, some are sneaky, some are constant, some are ridiculous, and others are just hilarious. I laugh at the ego mind, and its stories and tricks. I give it a home, listen to the stories, and let it spin its wheels. There is no stopping it. However, I can choose to not attach to the beliefs. They are just thoughts. I have the power to choose to come back to the present moment.
I heard the thoughts and I asked myself,
Instantly, I returned to this moment and this breath. The tension melted out of my body as the anxiety gave way to peace. I would just be smiling and doing the thing in front of me with joy. I would be breathing and moving free from the suffering of my mind. This above question is one of the 4 questions from BK.
For example, what are all your complaints about your physical body?
We all have our own stories of how we are so imperfect, how we want it to be different, and if it was only “this way”, then we would be happy.
If you are playing the “When/Then” game, of when I get this, then I will be this. It’s hopeless. Just be the thing you want to be here and now. That’s your job. Be happy here and now at this moment.
Do you ever find yourself looking for love in all the wrong places? I have noticed that seeking approval from others is an exhausting, time-consuming, impossible, unfulfilling, and endless battle. Mainly because when I don’t approve and love myself then I can’t even accept approval and love from others.
It’s my job to love myself. Whatever I want from others, I can give it to myself. I can love myself, I can give myself a hug, and I can approve of myself. I can love and appreciate my body exactly as it is. I can love my mind, even my ego mind. Whew! What a relief it is!
All the things I have been seeking from others are right here for me. And now that I am not seeking it outside of myself, I can be more present. I can listen to others and connect more deeply. Perhaps I will find more authentic relationships when I get really good at this. Feels like it so far.
You can do it too.
Notice what you are wanting from others today, and give it to yourself. Or ask for it. If you want a hug, ask for it. If you don’t get it, ask someone else, or just give yourself a hug! You have everything you need. You are the one who is with you for an entire lifetime. Be your own best friend.
Now you may think this sounds isolating. On the contrary, it frees us up to have more deeply connected relationships free of expectations and full of acceptance. When we love ourselves, we naturally love others.
You will know when you are attaching to an old story or belief because you will have an emotion like anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, etc.
Take a look at the beliefs and images you are attaching too. What comparison is stealing your Joy?
Imagine you were the only human on the planet. There is nothing to compare your body to. And you had amnesia so you didn’t attach to a past or future. Then you come upon a pond or mirror and see your body, and just marvel at the beauty of it just the way it is. That’s it. You are perfect just how you are.
Let’s say you think you are 70 pounds overweight. You are frustrated, anxious, and overwhelmed. You notice you overeat and make bad choices on food to eat (according to your own integrity). And it has been a battle for you. Now notice all the judgments and stories you have going in your head. Do you compare yourself to others or to your past self. Are there fears of the future? Calmly, see what is causing your suffering. When you really take a look you will see that your suffering comes from what you are thinking and believing and not that you are “overweight”.
Now, imagine that you fully love and accept yourself just as you are without those thoughts and stories. Be still and notice your own beauty and see your mind as peaceful and clear. There is a calmness about you without attachment to all the stories, comparisons, or images of the past and future. You are happy and at peace.
Your happiness has nothing to do with your body or your weight. It has to do with your mind. So just get your mind straight and happiness is right there for you. With a clear mind, anxiety gives way to joy.
Then imagine how much easier it might be to not overeat, or to make better choices from a place of peace. You might just find that from this place of clarity and peace, things in your life just balance out easily and effortlessly.
As I mentioned in my last blog. You can choose between War and Trust. Everything is here to serve you. If you move fromdefending to understanding, it will be the end of the war.
I love this quote I heard from Deepak Chopra years ago,
Most definitely, we don’t have to let Comparison steal our Joy! Truly, we all have access to equal amounts of wisdom, freedom, and happiness.
Seemingly, this is the first step to freedom. We get to notice the ego mind with compassion. Just notice the stories, the judgments, and the images of the past and future. Watch these stories and images like you are watching a movie. Love the ego for its childlike interesting stories, and know that you don’t have to attach to any of them. Look inside and see if any of the stories are even really true for you.
Have you ever had this story: “I am not good enough.”. That’s a good one. Certainly, believing this story makes us anxious every time. Undoubtedly, this is not a new story. It has been around for as long as humans have I guess. And ask yourself, “Is it really true? Can you absolutely know it is true?
These are the first two of four questions from our Dear Byron Katie. You can find her worksheets here.
Warmness and Love!
PS – Would you like to work with me? I do Mindfulness Coaching just like I discuss here. Give yourself the gift of an exploration partner who can help you become more aware and free. Email me today for a no cost session. [email protected]