"Comparison is the thief of joy," said Buddha.
So why do we constantly compare ourselves to others? There is some comfort in being surrounded by people like us -- same city, similar interests, even matching income levels. Then someone "does better" -- lands a killer job, takes that dream trip to Bali, buys a condo or get engaged... and things feel like they change.
Why does this matter? The truth is, it doesn't. Our peer group is the ultimate reflection of ourselves, and it is natural to feel we are not going fast enough, doing well enough, or are not talented enough when we see people surpass us in any area of life. Comparison for this reason is the ego at its most unhealthy and destructive. Comparing comes from the mentality of lack. It makes us forget that there is enough for everyone.
The good news is that we can overcome comparison and the illusion of competition it creates.
Here are five ways to do that:
1. Use your energy focusing on what you have, not on what others have. Write a gratitude list and thank the universe for every line.
2. Remember, life is unpredictable -- one day someone else is ahead, another day you will be ahead. Only compare yourself with yourself.
3. Congratulate others -- their success does not take away from yours. You can even learn from others' achievements. Success for others, when perceived correctly, shows us that getting what we want is possible for anyone. I had a friend whose body was transformed with a barre workout -- her colleague joined the studio too and benefited from months of research! If she came from a place of comparison rather than a place of curiosity and openness, she would be closed off to this awesome benefit.
4. Have some perspective. Good fortune in one area of someone's life does not necessarily translate to all areas of their life. We don't know what is really going on with people and often the truth can surprise us. At the height of Katy Perry's professional success she confessed to having suicidal thoughts over her divorce. This is why comparison makes no sense -- it is selective, exaggerated and unreal.
5. Use the comparison trigger of envy to your advantage. What does it tell you? Maybe something is missing in your life and its time for you to go for it.
Remember, the universe is abundant and wants you to have all that you want. You block the flow of opportunity, creation and miracles when we focus on other people and resent their accomplishments. Use your energy to think of ways to become your best and highest self. Claim your joy by kicking comparison to the curb and focusing on what matters: you!
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.