None of us wake up each morning thinking, Today will be a complete success if I can just make myself miserable.
But that’s exactly how we live when we choose to compare ourselves to others.
To be fair, avoiding life in the land of comparisons can be really hard. Before the invention of social media, comparisons were mostly limited to what we could see in our neighborhoods, at our jobs, and in our schools. Now with just a swipe of the finger, we are comparing our lives with the lives of people all over the world.
In her new book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want, best-selling author Rachel Cruze points out that constantly comparing ourselves to others isn’t fair and never ends well.
“What I’ve come to realize is that, when we start comparing ourselves to other people, we’re playing a game we’ll never win,” Rachel says.
With that in mind, here are three things we really need to remember about comparisons.
1. Comparisons rob your joy.
The Bible says that we need to “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15 NIV). But that’s hard to do when you’re so busy comparing yourself to their highlight reel.
Instead of wasting a lot of time and money keeping up with someone else, choose joy. Instead of letting envy or jealousy take root, be happy for your friends when they win and grateful to God for what He’s given you.
2. Contentment works so much better than comparison.
And speaking of gratitude . . . how about adding more contentment to your life? Contentment is rooted in gratitude, so remembering all that God has done for you can help you fight off that drive to compare.
As Rachel points out in Love Your Life, Not Theirs, that might be easier said than done. The struggle between contentment and comparison has raged as long as people have roamed the earth. God had to command the Hebrews to avoid coveting—and they didn’t even have social media fueling the fire!
“Most of what you see on Facebook and Instagram is enhanced,” Rachel points out. “It’s a public display of our best self.”
In other words, you usually don’t know what’s going on behind those pictures. You may be trying to keep up with the Joneses, while the Joneses are struggling to keep up appearances! In contrast, content people may not have the best of everything, but they make the best of everything. That’s why they don’t worry about comparisons.
3. Learn how to buy and have the things you really want.
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar used to say, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” When it comes to achieving your own highlight reel, you’ve got to take aim by creating a plan.
As Rachel talks about in Love Your Life, Not Theirs, for the short term, that means building a budget every month and sticking to it. It also includes basic things like talking with your spouse (or accountability partner) about your dreams. You need to set some goals, identify some priorities, and embrace some sacrifices.
Honestly, when you’re focused on a plan, you don’t have nearly as much time to compare yourself to someone else.
When you think about it, comparisons really just lead you in one of two directions. They either puff you up (feeling arrogant) or they tear you down (feeling worthless). Neither are healthy places to live. It’s so much better to chase your own dream than to try to tag on to someone else’s.