Unless you are Leo Babauta, blogger and the-simple-life guru at Zen Habits. I’m going to try to blog about his book, The Power of Less, a little bit later in the week. After reading that book, I started subscribing to his blog feed and came upon this blog post on NOT comparing yourself to others (such a novel idea).
We all know that comparing ourselves to others is really not good for our psyches. As Babauta says, there’s always someone better and comparing their strengths to your weaknesses is really unfair to yourself. That’s what I do when it comes to athleticism and physical fitness. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life and have never been the athletic sort. I mean, come on, I fell down onto the floor closing the window last night (no lie, I have the scrape to prove it). I’m not the most coordinated person. Nor do I have balance. And I fall a lot.
So, when I see someone who is really physically fit and obviously takes good care of their bodies, I feel jealous. I think to myself, “That person is so lucky. They are born to look like that. I’ll never have that.” Later in the week, I’ll also blog about the book Switch, but the author of that book talks about the Fundamental Attribution Error – when we think that people are the way they are because that’s just who they are. You can see how this becomes a self-defeating thought process … that person is good, I’m bad.
But, I like what Babauta says:
If you always want what others have, you will never have enough. You will always want more. That’s an endless cycle, and it will never lead to happiness. No matter how many clothes you buy, no matter how many houses you own (seven, in the case of one famous candidate), no matter how many fancy cars you acquire … you’ll never have enough. Instead, learn to realize that what you have is already enough. If you have shelter over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back, and people who love you, you are blessed. You have enough. Anything you have over and above that — and let’s admit that all of us reading this blog have more than that — is more than enough. Be good with that, and you’ll find contentment.
We are all pretty lucky.
I heard a while ago that instead of comparing yourself to other people, you should compare yourself to yourself in a previous time. This focuses you on GROWTH (rather than the Fundamental Attribution Error). And, when I compare myself now to myself a few years ago, I have definitely improved in my physical fitness. A few years ago, I didn’t go to the gym on a regular basis and, when I did, I took the “moral” stance that I would not spend more than 30 minutes there. Now, I go to the gym three or more times a week for at least an hour each time. That’s a vast improvement and on my journey to be a physically fit person, and if I look at it that way, I’m quite on my way.