Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Photo Credit Used under a CC license

Theodore Roosevelt is credited with saying “comparison is the thief of joy“. I think this is true.


Comparison . . .

  • Fosters unrealistic expectations and perfectionism
  • Fosters competition (the unhealthy kind, not the having-fun-wrestling-on-the-floor-with-a-litter-of-puppies kind)
  • Fosters envy and jealousy **
  • Keeps us small and spiteful

I think the worst thing about comparison is that we– most of us, anyway– are trained to do it to ourselves. No one needs to tell me I suck compared to the writer who lives just up the road from me.*** I am busy telling myself that. *sigh*

** I’m not being redundant here. “Envy” is the emotion we experience when we covet the possessions of another. “Jealousy” is the emotion we experience when we think a relationship we value is threatened. I notice that people tend to use the words interchangeably. IMO, they should not. 😉

*** Steven Galloway, who wrote the beautiful Cellist of Sarajevo and many other things



Photo Credit Used under a CC license
Photo Credit  Used under a CC license

I wrote this a few weeks ago, waiting for the tectonic shifts in my personal life to occur. They have, and it’s ok. I like the new thing.

*      *      *

I am on the verge of some unsettling changes that will be evolving over the next few weeks.

On the negative side of the balance sheet?

  • The unknown– how will I know I’ll like the new thing until I’m in it, and what if I don’t like it once I am there?
  • The cost (in time, actual money, and stress) to other people (a.k.a. “Who the hell am I make decisions that have an impact on other people?)
  • The self-doubt– maybe I’m an idiot to make significant lifestyle changes for no reason other than  . . . (tho’ truth be told in the current sitch I have felt like I’m drowning in obligations). I freely acknowledge this is more about me than about my situation. My friend Nancy recently told me that one of the reasons she lives alone is that when there are other people around she can’t help ‘scanning’ them all the time– taking their emotional temperature to see if there is something that they want or need.  To be clear, no one is typically asking for that. That doesn’t matter. It’s an automatic unconscious reflex. The nesting set of cultural, cognitive, and affective imperatives that make something like this possible, and indeed, inevitable– is a much bigger blog post. Indeed, it’s likely a very large book. Suffice it to say that Nancy’s comment resonated for me.

On the plus side of the balance sheet?

  • More time alone (which is good for my mental health)
  • More time alone (which is good for Getting Things Done)
  • More time (for self-care; as in with fewer responsibilities to others, I won’t have to pencil “shave my legs” into my day planner. I imagine looking at my shins, deciding they need to be shaved, and having the freedom to go do that. . . without scanning the room first).