Similarity Isn't Sameness

11/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

When you compare yourself to somebody else, you are comparing you to not-you. But uniqueness is beyond comparison. Sure, you and so-and-so might be very similar, but similarity isn't sameness. For you to score like they do (whoever they might be), look like they do, earn like they do, talk like they do - to be like they are - you'd have to not be you. But you are you: not worse, not better, just different.

To function as a society, and to function in a society, we have to play this game of comparisons. This game is useful but fundamentally absurd. After all, how do you compare apples to oranges? Is an apple better than an orange? It depends on the mouth, i.e. on somebody's subjective taste. Is an apple better than an orange in any objective sense? Of course, not. It's just different.

When we say "it is what it is" we are also saying that "it" (whatever that "it" might be) is unique, i.e. different from anything else. Is so-and-so better than you? That depends on a subjective point of view. No matter how similar the two of you might be, you aren't the same and the difference between the two of you is what accounts for all the differences between the two of you. Embrace your uniqueness! Whoever or whatever you are, celebrate the uniqueness of your existence. It too is part of the ordinary perfection of all that is!

Pavel Somov, Ph.D. is the author of Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time (New Harbinger, 2008) and of Present Perfect: From Mindless Pursuit of What Should Be to Mindful Acceptance of What Is (in press, New Harbinger Publications, in stores in July 2010). He is in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA. For more information visit and sign up for Pavel Somov's monthly "Mindful-not-Mouthful" Newsletter.