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It's ok to compare yourself to others

4th Mar 20176m59s

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  • People always say that, you shouldn't compare yourself to other people. And the reason they say this is because for some of us in many situations, when we compare ourselves to others, we might feel upset. Because we think that what we have isn't as good as what other people have. This is one of the reasons why, when you look at research into social networks like Facebook, they say people who use social networks a lot on a regular basis tend to be less happy than people who don't. And it's because when we use these networks, we look at profiles created by other people where everything's mostly positive. And it creates this picture of this amazing life they're living. And we inevitably end up comparing our situation to their situation as we perceive it. And it doesn't make us happy because our situation, more often than not, isn't as awesome as theirs. And even though we know that surely what we're seeing isn't the whole picture, we can't help but just base the comparison on what we see in front of us. So there's this general assertion that everyone always says, that you shouldn't compare yourself to others. Because the assumption is if you do that then you're likely to be upset. Because there's always something in which someone else is either doing better than you or has better than you or is better than you from the way you perceive it. And so, I've tried to do this myself in my life. Cause as somebody who's quite driven, I'm always comparing myself to other people, my peers, whether it'd be in an activity, a sport or academia or my work. For me it's just natural to do that. And I imagine it's the same for most people who are quite driven. The thing is I struggle to not compare myself to others. It's not even something that I consciously do. I decide where I'm going to make comparison. It just happens automatically. And what I've realized recently is that to struggle against it, to stop myself doing something that's so natural just doesn't make any sense. So in this video, I want to suggest a different approach to this which is to actually compare yourself to others. And I want to re-phrase this assertion that people say. When people say, "Don't compare yourself to others." I want to change that. I want to change it to, don't measure your self-worth based on others. So there's a little difference here. I'm not saying, don't compare. I'm saying, comparison whether you do it or not doesn't matter but don't measure your self-worth based on others. And this I think gets the heart of the matter, when people say don't compare yourself with other people. Behind that statement is a whole bunch of other statements. Mainly, which is, comparing yourself to other people doesn't make sense because your path in life has been different to their path in life. Your path in life has been unique. So if you're not good at something and they are, there's a reason for that. It's not because you're terrible compared to them. It's because the path that you've taken has led you to the point where you're at this level. And the path that they've taken has led them to the point where they're at that level, which is better than yours. Right? It's neither here nor there. So that's usually the sort of argument that's put forward for why you shouldn't compare yourself to other people. But of course, it's natural to compare. So my argument is, why you shouldn't measure your self-worth against others or by what you see others doing is because, precisely because your path is different. So you're gonna compare and you'll make an observation that they're better than you but then your self-worth can still be intact despite the comparison coming out in your mind negative for you. And the great thing about this approach is that, it becomes okay to compare. It's you know, comparison is natural. We compare all the time. We compare the prices of the same product in different places. We compare how we're doing at somebody else. And there are actually some good reasons to be comparing ourselves to others. I mean for one instance, if I'm with my friend and we're both doing the same thing, and he's doing better than me or she's doing better than me, then comparing how we're doing things differently just even noting the fact that they're doing it better than me might inspire me to do better and maybe my friend will encourage me to do better. In fact, I mean, this happened to me for real. I started climbing with my friend and he got a lot better than me, a lot quicker. And initially I was upset that he was better than me. And then, I just talked to him about this. And then he told me that, he didn't feel egotistical about being better. He wanted me to get better too. Now he's a great guy that's why he said that. But it made me think that, me making that comparison was okay but me then deciding based upon the comparison that my situation sucked, that was the problem. The comparison was fine. I mean the comparison was almost self evident. I can't stop myself from comparing. It's obvious that he's better than me, right? And that's the thing about comparison. It's not even something we try to do. It's just automatic. So why stop it? It's okay to compare. It's okay to just let go and let these comparisons come in and just be aware of where you sit in whatever hierarchy that interests you. But then you can understand that, that comparison isn't static. The results that comparison doesn't have to be static. It's dynamic. It can change over time depending on the action you take, depending on the attitude you take. It's a little similar to that other statement of it's not about what happens to you, it's about how you react to what happens to you. So comparison is effectively something that happens to you. You're looking at reality that's in front of you and you're making an assessment to it, right? And the assessment, let's say, come's out negative for you because that's what most people are bothered by. If the assessment comes out positive for you, then hey, nothing to worry about. But let's say it comes out negative. So that's the reality of it. But then how you react to that determines what happens next. And it also determines how that comparison will change in future. So it's okay to compare and you should be comparing yourself because that's gonna push you to be better than you are today. And of course the ultimate comparison isn't with other people, it's with yourself. Who were you yesterday? Who are you today? So that's of course the best comparison to go for because that then makes you rise to your personal best. Because maybe you're comparing yourself to other people and then you surpass them by working hard. At that point, what if you've got no one to compare with? Then you should be comparing with yourself. So ultimately, you always end up having to compare with yourself, if you really want to become the best you can be.