I found this wonderful story on videoinspiration.net and I thought it would be a great anecdote for this article because it illustrates the point so well.
A crow lived in the forest and was absolutely satisfied in life. But one day he saw a swan. “This swan is so white,” he thought, “and I am so black. This swan must be the happiest bird in the world.”
He expressed his thoughts to the swan. “Actually,” the swan replied, “I was feeling that I was the happiest bird around until I saw a parrot, which has two colors. I now think the parrot is the happiest bird in creation.” The crow then approached the parrot and asked him if he was the happiest bird in the world. The parrot explained, “I lived a very happy life until I saw a peacock. I have only two colors, but the peacock has multiple colors. Surely, the peacock is the happiest bird in the world.”
The crow then visited a peacock in the zoo and saw that hundreds of people had gathered to see her. After the people had left, the crow approached the peacock. “Dear peacock,” the crow said, “you are so beautiful. Every day thousands of people come to see you. When people see me, they immediately shoo me away. I think you are the happiest bird on the planet.”
The peacock replied, “I always thought that I was the most beautiful and happy bird on the planet. But because of my beauty, I am entrapped in this zoo. I have examined the zoo very carefully, and I have realized that the crow is the only bird not kept in a cage. So for the past few days I have been thinking that if I were a crow, I could happily roam everywhere. Surely, the crow must be the happiest bird in the world.”
The moral of the story – the grass is not always greener on the other side.
In its purest form, comparing ourselves to others can motivate us to improve. If one of your former classmates opened a private practice and that inspired you to finally take the leap yourself and open your own practice; that kind of comparison is good because it motivates improvement. The negativity begins when we start pinning our happiness with ourselves on how we measure up to others.
Our brains have a natural tendency to make comparisons as a system of developing logic and reasoning. And all the ways we compare ourselves to others are the same ways we find value in our lives. However, when we feel we don’t measure up to others, that kind of Comparison is generally a fast track to unhappiness. It’s a recipe for misery and it doesn’t build confidence. All it does is keep you focused on what you don’t like about yourself and your life.
The answer isn’t to stop making comparisons, but to avoid measuring our happiness and value based on another.
Here are 5 steps you can take to redirect your comparisons:
- Be grateful for what you have – It’s difficult to feel self-contempt and gratitude at the same time. Whenever you feel self-contempt, start listing the things you’re grateful for, and pretty soon self-contempt will disappear.
- Be your best ally – Give yourself pep talks just like you would to a friend. Don’t agree with negative self, try standing up to her. If you keep disagreeing, she may start shutting-up.
- Accept your strengths and weaknesses – Instead of resisting or fighting who you are, come to peace with yourself. Say yes to every part of your life, and from that place, make decisions that will move you in the right direction.
- Water your own grass – Instead of wasting time comparing your path to someone else’s, spend it investing, creating, and caring for your own.
- Don’t let the fear of not measuring up guide your choices – Those choices will invariably lead you in the wrong direction. Let love be your guide instead.
Whenever you focus on what other people have that you don’t, you give away your power and your confidence. So, take back your power from all the people, places, and situations where you’ve left it and bring it back to you. Accept and be confident in who you are. Focus on watering your own grass and building your own path. Find the confidence inside yourself to be the best that you can be and share that with the rest of the world.