Do you ever find yourself scrolling through social media, thinking about people you know, and comparing yourself?
If so, you’ve probably noticed that it tends to make you feel bad, damaging your self-esteem and motivation.
Here are some of the great things you will experience when you stop comparing yourself
1) You feel happier and your overall well-being improves
In Ben’s Stiller’s 2018 movie “Brad’s Status” Stiller, aka Brad, reconnects with some of his peers from university. As a result he begins to feel that he has underperformed, despite his well-off middle-class life and happy family.
He sees others with more money, having more fun or younger girlfriends, or bigger inheritances.
He feels envious and unhappy and this leads him into a spiral of bad choices and disillusionment. At least until he realizes the error of his ways.
It’s part of the human condition to compare yourself to others, especially your peer group. But once you can let go of this and start focusing on what you have, you are going to feel happier as a result, just like Brad does in the movie.
Other negative feelings that you will be able to let go of include: guilt, shame, regret, resentment, and more.
2) You feel lighter and freer
Carrying around heavy feelings like guilt and resentment isn’t easy.
Comparison carries a psychological toll, and it can make you feel filled with unrealistic expectations that can weigh you down.
Like Brad in the movie, you might feel that you have to start doing more, or get a bigger house or better paying job. Even though you might actually have things that are just fine or even wonderful.
By letting go of these expectations you will feel free and lighter. It’s ok to want to better your life, but these things should come from within rather than because someone else has them, or societal pressure.
There will always be someone who has more than you do.
Yet, even the richest person in the world will not have various skills or joys in their life that you do. And even the best spiritual guru will likely lack things that you enjoy in your life.
3) Your ability to create improves
If you’re comparing yourself to others, and feeling heavy, this is a major block for creativity.
It’s true that some artistic creativity is born out of pain. But the majority of the projects, goals and dreams that people create come from their internal motivations and desires, rather than outward pressure.
Once you feel free from the prospect of how what you are doing measures up to others, you will find that your ability to create flows more smoothly.
4) You become more realistic in your understanding of others
Ok, I’ve already given a lot away about the movie Brad’s Status, and now it’s time for a full-on spoiler alert!
Towards the end of the film, Brad begins to realize that the things that he envied in others, weren’t a true representation of their lives, for instance:
The friends he assumed were wealthy turned out to not be as financially secure as he thought.
Those that he assumed had perfect marriages and partnerships had gone through significant relationship problems, like divorces and breakups.
The peers that he felt had a true sense of purpose and fulfillment in life turned out to be struggling with the same feelings of emptiness, vulnerability, and self-doubt he was.
At the end of it all, Brad realizes that his perception of his friends’ happiness was skewed, and that everyone faces their own challenges.
He ultimately comes to understand that nobody is immune to the troubles of life, and comparing oneself to others based on outward appearances, is a flawed approach.
5) You can love others for who they are (without envy, shame, or judgment)
Once we realize that others are not inherently better or worse than us, and that thinking this way is a faulty line of reasoning, something magical happens. Our capacity for love grows.
Why is that?
If we engage in “upward social comparison” we may actually wish to sabotage others’ happiness, and spend mental energy on things that make us less loving and kind.
The same goes the other way. If we do what psychologists call “downward social comparisons” we may start to judge others as ‘less than’ us.
This kind of judgmental thinking can destroy good relationships with others and lead us to miss what is really important about them.
Instead of focusing on comparison, we can think about the things we really love and admire about other people.
We can celebrate their wins and commiserate when things don’t go well. This brings us more joy and opens our hearts to feeling more love.
6) You realize that a lot of things don’t matter (and you can focus on what does)
Our time on earth is finite, and so many of the things we think and worry about don’t really matter. A lot of elders say that they wish they had focused less on things they came to realize didn’t really matter.
Common answers include: Too much time spent chasing status, career success, material possessions, seeking approval or validation from others, and dwelling on regrets.
By realizing what doesn’t really matter, you can spend more time on things that do.
Such as spending time with loved ones and friends, enjoying the moment, and doing things that you find truly fulfilling.
7) You attract more positive people into your life
By ceasing endless comparison, you will develop a more authentic sense of self. And in turn, this can attract more people into your life.
How does this work?
The lack of authenticity can lead you to try to mold yourself to fit certain ideals. By embracing your true self and letting go of comparison, you are more likely to attract people who appreciate you for who you are.
But wait, there’s more.
By releasing negative feelings you can cultivate a more positive mindset and demeanor, which can make you more approachable and engaging to others.
Comparison to others – some final thoughts
Ultimately, it’s normal to compare ourselves to others, and some psychologists suggest that it can even benefit us and inspire us to aim for better.
I do think that we can think of others’ successes and use them as a motivating factor. In some of my lowest moments, I have done this myself and it has really worked well for me. But I wouldn’t personally call that comparison. More like a vicarious, loving pleasure.
I agree with the words of Theodore Roosevelt who said that “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
If you find yourself comparing yourself to others, firstly show yourself some self-compassion.
Then choose to let go of it, as much as you can, and watch the benefits flow into your life.