“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt
“… let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.” Romans 12:6 MSG
Yup, this is still a challenge for me, so I figure what’s another blog post about quitting it with comparisons? Let’s work this out on the page together, because honestly, a lot of times things don’t quite click in my head until I write them out. So let’s get to it.
Now, I think we’ve all heard the quote by Theodore Roosevelt listed above. But let’s really think about it: he uses the word “thief”. That’s very specific. He didn’t say that comparison lessens joy, or that comparison depletes joy. Or even that comparison eliminates joy. He goes right with the personification of “thief”. Comparison to others snatches the joy right from us and throws it away. With the presence of comparison of ourselves to someone else, there can’t be a presence of joy. We must intentionally choose one or the other, comparison or joy. With comparison comes a loss of confidence, and suddenly our very foundation seems shaky when it enters the equation. With joy comes gratitude, optimism, and peace. The choice is ours.
The Bible verse out of Romans is extremely interesting to me. I’ve never heard this translation until I did a little research for this post. Again, the wording is fascinating. My favorite section of the excerpt is “without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves to others”. In essence, I think I was missing a piece of the puzzle. I’ve always known that comparing myself out of jealousy was an issue. I mean, of course it is; I’m openly thinking I’m not enough because of how great someone else is. However, I didn’t consider making the comparison and thinking myself superior. I’ve done that before, many times actually, hoping again and again that it will make me feel better in a given situation where the other person has wronged me. I never really do, but I try to convince myself I do, and I pretend I do on the outside.
Honestly, though, inside I really don’t. I don’t feel confident in myself just because I’ve declared myself better than someone else. In fact, it’s makes me feel pretty awful, because at the end of the day, confidence should come from full acceptance of and love for who you are as a complete individual. And trying to say that we are better just doesn’t feel right because it isn’t right; it makes us look pretty arrogant, because our confidence is coming from the wrong place. And, to be clear, it’s not really confidence if it comes from the wrong place. It’s prideful, so joy can’t be found there, either.
All of that said, the only healthy kind of comparison truly does lie within ourselves. Continually striving for improvement and asking ourselves whether we have made better choices, acted with more compassion, and stepped closer to our goals than we did the day before are comparisons that create a better version of us. We can’t be weighed down with stacking ourselves up to others, as God didn’t create us to be them. Comparisons to our peers are the thief of joy because innately, we know that we aren’t here to be a version of ourselves that looks like someone else. We’re here to offer our unique perspective, and through that to make positive changes that no one else has the capabilities to make. Choose yourself today. Compare you to you. You’ll find that if you’ve spent a long time comparing yourself to others, you haven’t made too many positive changes in your own life. Don’t waste your time with emulation; embrace what makes you individual, and recognize that comparison can indeed bring joy when it’s self introspection that prompts it. Strive for your best version of individual, and good things (like joy) will come.
Just a reminder to keep your blessings in mind. You are so very loved!