Be Happy: Don’t Compare!

A few weeks ago, I was at a trade show where I got to spend some time with my colleagues in the field of customer loyalty and customer culture. I delight in catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. I thrill in learning what the leaders in the field are up to and eagerly capture the latest “findings” in my pages and pages of notes, which I eventually share with clients and the people that subscribe to my newsletters.

At conferences like this I’m with people that speak the same language and are passionate about the same things. We understand each other and we all understand that we are working together to make the world a better place. Click here to see my post on “changing the world.”

Much as I love these experiences, I’ve learned over time that conferences can be “slippery slopes” for me. Why? Because I have a tendency to compare myself to others. In and of itself, comparison can be useful. It can sometimes be motivating. But for many people “upward comparison” can be the death knell to happiness.

I have this crazy tendency to compare myself to people that have accomplished more than I have. I see their 300 page books, their newest research, or their snazzy new websites and immediately feel “less than.”

It’s an old habit and a bad one. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, or why it occurs, I’ve come to recognize it simply as a non-productive habit that depletes my energy and plays havoc with my self esteem, and so I hit the “pause” button when I feel it kick in.

I breathe. I acknowledge what I am doing.

“Uh-oh” I hear a little voice say, “This isn’t useful, this is making you feel badly about yourself, instead of proud of your own accomplishments. STOP. Just STOP.”

It’s my tough love approach and it works to help me shift my focus from comparing myself with those who do more, to acknowledging what I have done and not what I haven’t. My list of professional accomplishments are not too shabby, but frankly don’t compare to the “stars” in the field. Tom Peters, I’m not.

While studying Positive Psychology I learned that when we compare ourselves upwardly – with others that have more, do more, seem to be more – we inevitably feel unhappy.

When we compare ourselves with others who have less, do less, etc. we have the opportunity to be grateful, and when we allow ourselves to sit in that gratitude and reflect, happiness brews, contentment stirs, and we give peace a chance. Peace and harmony in my life are personal goals.

If you want to increase your Positivity ratio every day – stay away from comparison with others. Set your own personal goals, choose a picture of what your own personal best looks like and let that be your north star.

Comparison can breed feelings of lack, humiliation and even shame. These “low vibration” emotions then diminish your positive capacity. You know that makes you a less effective leader, friend, citizen or partner.

Protect yourself from “upward comparison” and orient to your own desires.

Star in your own movie.



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