“Don’t compare yourself with other people; compare yourself with who you were yesterday.” Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life
If I had to pick the quickest, most effective way to suck the joy out of life it would be comparing yourself to other people.
Have you experienced this phenomenon? You can be happily going about your day, intrinsically satisfied by your own accomplishments when one tap onto instagram completely replaces this feeling with that of inferiority and insignificance.
But how? We were so happy just mere moments before? What changed?
Well, you didn’t. You are exactly the same person you were before. Before you made the fatal error of seeing what the rest of the world is up to, before you realized all of your friends are rockstars and you are not.
The point is, you never changed, but your standard for happiness and contentment changed.
I don’t have to tell you that the internet and social media has exasperated this, like 1000%. What makes this even worse is the “others” you are comparing yourself to aren’t even real. They are in fact just edited, artificial, highlight reels of a life that may or may not be just as mundane as yours.
Although the comparison trap is perhaps harder to avoid than ever, this is not a new problem. Let’s look at a biblical example:
In John 21, Jesus says to Peter “when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (this was to warn Him of the type of death he would face)
(As if this news was not bad enough, Peter looked behind Him to John. And began to compare his fate to that of John)
…When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
Jesus response shows us exactly where the problem lies in our confrontation to our own external circumstances, it lies in our internal tendency to compare ourselves or our circumstances to others.
So before you divulge into the self-loathing that all too often accompanies comparing yourself to others. (Or worse, their social media accounts) Ask yourself Jesus’s simple question:
“What is that to you?”