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“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Teddy Roosevelt


Have you ever heard that quotation before? It’s meant to be a helpful reminder that always comparing yourself to other people is a sure way to reduce the satisfaction and joy in your own life.

Just a couple decades ago this wasn’t quite as much of an issue. Sure, you might have been tempted to compare yourself to the people you saw or interacted with in real life, but any envy and comparison was easier to manage because you tended to see those same people in bad times as well as good.

These days, with Facebook and Instagram, we’re connected to people we might not interact with very often in real life, and we only see what they choose to show us. Many people on social media take great care to curate a particular image for themselves; one that’s positive, successful, and enviable. (In fact, some make posts based on how jealous they’re likely to make other people.)

After all, how often do your Instagram or Facebook connections post pictures of themselves when they’re feeling or looking their worst? Almost never, right? Do your Facebook friends tend to post pics of themselves on vacation at the beach, or when they’re exhausted, sick, or completely overwhelmed?

Real life has both good and bad times. So when people only show you the good things, you might start to think maybe you’ve got too much bad going on in yours. When you compare yourself to these idealized versions of other people, you’ll find ways in which you come up short. And then you’ll feel bad.

But that doesn’t mean you should never compare yourself. It’s just that you’ll be far happier when your comparisons look inward.

  • How does the current you compare to the past you? Are you eating better now than you were last month or last year? Have you started a walking or exercise program to improve your health? If not, then you can start making those changes today.
  • How does the current you compare to the goals you’ve set for yourself? Are you making steady progress and improvement toward a weight loss target or lifestyle improvement? If not, then modify your approach so that you can begin making those improvements.

When you’re working to improve your quality of life, then there’s little reason to get distracted by what other people are doing. You have no control over them or their successes. You only have control over your own life, and your decisions. Focus on you and your own growth and improvement. Set the example and live your own best life.

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