I woke up the other day and realized that I’m almost thirty years old. In that moment, I needed to do a quick self assessment. How far have I progressed in my life? Am I happy? Am I fulfilled? Have I accomplished all that I expected to by this age? I instantly looked around me and begin to compare myself to my peers. Do they have a high powered careers? Are they married? Do they have kids?
If we are honest, many of us can agree that we go through these series of questions several times in our adult lives. We can also agree that all comparison is not bad. Comparison can push us toward becoming better people. It can encourage us to do things we never thought possible and motivate us to accomplish tasks that we previously avoided.
However, at some point, comparison can take an unhealthy turn.
We can easily become obsessed with what our counterparts are doing. We start to measure our worth based on the lives of others. We lose focus on our purpose and begin seeking the approval of our friends, co-workers, and family members instead of God.
Our perspective shifts and instead of trying to please the One, we start trying to become the one: the one person that everyone is envious of because we are so successful, beautiful, and we have it altogether.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
It’s easy to fall into the routine of looking at others for approval in an effort to determine our own levels of success. Between Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and the interconnected world we live in, it is incredibly difficult not to let comparison consume us.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned for avoiding the comparison trap and maintaining a healthy perspective:
Limit your time on social media. Not only can it be a time waster, but it may also cause you unnecessary stress and anxiety. Give yourself a time limit and invest that extra time elsewhere.
Learn to be content. Consistent contentment is definitely a struggle for most of us. However, mastering this concept is a game changer. When you start to feel yourself comparing, make the conscious decision to appreciate who you are and where you are in life. It may help to spend time writing out some of the things you are grateful for or how you have grown over the past year.
Be grateful. It is so easy to become so overwhelmed with how much you need or what you want that you forget how blessed you already are. How often have you stressed out about not having the perfect relationship, your dream job, or the perfect house? Look for opportunities to be thankful for the roof over your head, a job that pays the bills, and the opportunity to love others.
Learn to rejoice with others. It used to be painful for me when someone in my life got something that I wanted. I had a very difficult time being excited for them because I could only think about myself and what I felt I needed. But, over time, I’ve learned to practice being joyful for others and now I can celebrate their triumphs with them.
Water your own grass. The old saying goes, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” The truth is, it just appears that way because of our perspective. Shift your perspective and be appreciative of your own lawn. Maybe everything you really need is right there in front of you, just waiting to be cultivated.
Change definitely does not happen overnight. However, real steps can be taken daily to ensure that we are on our way to living a life that pleases God, encourages others, and eliminates our need to compare.
photo by Shena Tschofen