The Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others

I believe that if you compare yourself to others, you will always find fault in yourself. My favorite quote is from Albert Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

I used to work in a school. One day, I created tons of Jeopardy questions to teach my class trivia facts about the government.  They were questions like, “Who is the Speaker of the House?”

Our first time playing, not one person in the class knew the answers to any of the questions.  By popular demand, we played several times with different players at the buzzer.  By the time the class was over, the students in my first class had memorized the answers. 

At the end of the period, some of the school's star students were coming into my classroom for advisory.  When they saw the buzzers, one student ran in and said, “I want to play!”

The first question he chose was “Who is the President Pro-Tempore?”  He had no idea.  My other student answered it without hesitation. I will never forget the look he gave her, like, “How in the world did you know that?!”

She smoked him.  But it was because she had already been through the questions three times.

It taught me a lesson.  Jeopardy is a lot like life.  There are times when other people have experiences that allow them to learn about things we have never seen or heard about.  Yet, we feel stupid for not knowing the answers.  We compare ourselves to them.

There is always someone in the world who will be prettier than us, smarter than us, skinnier than us, and more charming than us.  Just like there is always someone in the world who will know the answers to every single Jeopardy question.  I have learned that the secret to happiness is not comparing yourself to them.  You will always lose the battle.  It is about figuring out what experiences you want to try and knowing what goals you want to set for yourself.

My first day in a yoga class, I learned quickly that if I compared myself to the woman next to me, I would spend the entire class frustrated.  My experience with yoga could never allow me to hold a tree pose like her, a woman who had been studying yoga for 7 years. Now, each class, I try to stretch my foot father than I did the day before.  That is my definition for success; improving and surpassing my own goals instead of creating a competition in my head with someone else.