In a session with a client the other day, she brought up the following quote: “Comparisons are the enemy of joy.” In digesting this wise statement I recognize its truth. Particularly in West Los Angeles but present everywhere, we are constantly tempted and deceived by examples of what we perceive as being something superior to what we possess in our own lives. This evaluation begins at a young age. My six year old tells me her friends have more American Girl dolls than her. My eight year old notices his peers live in bigger houses than himself. My two year old retorts, “I want more! I want more!”
What is it in us that is never satisfied with what we have? Many clients I see in my practice look at other’s relationships, careers and possessions and feel a sense of inferiority as compared to their own. Or they look at others around them and boost their own egos by seeing what they possess, which their friends do not. The Smiths have such a good relationship. Her husband Ben is always showing her so much affection and buying her expensive presents. Why can’t my husband be more like that? My boyfriend Matthew is not half as driven as my friends’ boyfriends. Will he ever have the same passion and zest for life as all of them? Our house is so small and old. Look at the Burtons house – it’s completely remodeled and sustainable. Will we ever have a house like that? It goes on and on.
What happens when we are in the mode of comparing is that we disengage -away from the joy of our own reality and toward a role of yearning for something that does not truly exist. We live out of a place of lack, rather than a place of abundance, giving allegiance and power to other’s perceived realities and turning our backs on our own joy. Our imaginations are powerful – and thus what we experience others having is never accurate. In the meantime, all of the delight and happiness that we could have been beholding is sucked away into a black hole of longing for something entirely impalpable. We become slaves to this imaginary ideal that offers only a fictional respite from out own mundane existences.
However, what we come to find out, though much trial and tribulation is that this ideal is invented in our own minds – it is not real. And thus we chase a ‘final fictional goal’, weighing ourselves up against something that is actually unattainable – simply because it is imagined in our own mind and it does not belong to us.
We must resist this urge to compare. We must find peace and enjoyment in our own lives, blessing those around us to find the same in theirs.
We must fully accept and honor our own reality, rather than dividing our energy by wishing for something that we don’t have.
This is not to say we cannot dream, desire or imagine changes in our lives. Dreaming is different than comparing. Dreaming comes from our desires. Comparing comes from our deficiencies.