Someone once said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." Whoever it was really nailed that one right on the head. Recently this quote, which has been attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin, the Bible, and Buddha, popped back into my head. Who knows who actually said it, but I think for a long time, people have been identifying comparison as a dangerous weapon of self-destruction.
We've all seen that one person who just seems to have it all. From our perspective, they've got great friends, great hair, great clothes, a great body, etc. But what does the word "great" actually mean? Often, I think it just means that we think it's better than our friends, our hair, our clothes, our body, etc. And what does any of this actually mean, other than that human nature involves an addiction to ranking things based on how "good" or "bad" we think they are?
Sometimes in defense, people say comparison can motivate you. Yes, sometimes you needed a bit of a push to study harder for that math test. But you didn't get that push because you looked over at your friend's grade. You got that push because when you got back an F, you knew that you could have studied harder. Most of the time, it focuses entirely on what you don't have, rather than what you do. You don't spend time wishing that you had spent the night studying like your friend did. You spend time wishing you had the knowledge, or sometimes, you don't even care about the knowledge and you just want the good grade. At the end of the day, I don't think it's comparison that motivates you. It's guilt or a drive for success or some other emotion that you create within.
It seems we don't often compare ourselves in a good way, and that's what could be actually helpful for boosting our self-esteem. Wouldn't it be great if we all thought, "Wow, she's so funny, just like I am!" I am well aware this could create a terrible epidemic of narcissism, but let me have this one so I can imagine my happy utopia in peace. What I'm getting at here is that there's really not a way comparing yourself to a friend or a stranger or a celebrity will ever make you feel much better. Comparison just isn't designed to work that way. So if you can, try to stop. Sounds easy, but trust me I know it's not. When you've thought one way for a long time, you can't just switch. But start with this: when you're thinking about how great something is about someone else, and how you wish that you were more like that, try to think about the things that make you happy with yourself. Talk to yourself like your best friend would talk to you.