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Betterness without bitterness

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The tendency to compare ourselves to others is as human as any other emotion. But it is a decision that only steals joy from our lives.

How do we stack up as human beings? Our brains are naturally curious about how we are measuring up to others. Do we matter more than other people matter? Is our position more important than another person’s position? 

There are endless metrics upon which we can compare ourselves and an almost infinite number of people to compare ourselves to. You compare cars, houses, jobs, money, relationships, social popularity and so on.

People can spend their whole lives being fixated on where they rank in the human race, only to one day be disappointed to find out that there was never any measurement against any other person at all. There was only the assessment of how their life measured against their own personal potential.

Undeniably one person can be better than someone else at a certain task, but that doesn't mean they are a superior human being. Trying to gauge how we are doing in relation to another person will never lead to a useful assessment because no two people are ever the same. We come from different backgrounds. We possess different talents. We have different strengths and weaknesses. So how could it ever be a fair assessment to hold ourselves and any other person to the exact same measuring stick?

In life, there is no measuring stick that ranks us in order of importance. So then what do we aim for? How do we determine excellence? How do we become ‘the best’?

Some exercises that can help us do this are:

Instead of comparing yourself to other people, get into the habit of comparing yourself to yourself. Comparisons to others deprive us of joy. They add no value, meaning, or fulfilment to our life. They only distract from it and put focus on the wrong person. You can only control your own life. When we constantly compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy.

Look at your own natural talents and abilities and write them down in a list. Then ask yourself, how you can further develop those talents and abilities? Everyone has things that come easily to them. Things they do that are almost effortless yet create amazing results. Sometimes we don’t recognise our strengths and attributes for what they are. Sometimes we are afraid to see how our strengths stack up against the competition around us. The tasks you excel at reveal your natural gifts and talents. They describe what you are naturally great at doing. If you develop them and put them to work, you have the beginnings of a great career or business. 

Stop focusing on the big goal. Focusing on the big goal overwhelms us into inaction.   Unrealistic goals make it very difficult to make any progress. Your attempt to be better ends in failure because your life-changing goals overwhelm you into inaction instead of inspiring you into action. You will get stressed over what is supposed to motivate you. Ditch your big goals and focus on achieving small daily wins. Remember, you don’t have to know every step of the way; just the next few steps immediately ahead.
The steps beyond will become obvious as you move along.

Never stop learning! Learning should not end after formal education. Self-motivated pursuit of knowledge and curiosity to learn can enrich your life and make you a better person every day. You’re never done. Why wouldn’t you want to become the best version of yourself? 

Recognise that we are the result of the choices we have made in the past, and what happens tomorrow we will be the result of decisions we make today. So if we focus on making decisions today that will make us better tomorrow, we are always going to be in the process of becoming the best that we can be.

You may have heard the saying that “If you continuously compete with others, you become bitter, but if you continuously compete with yourself, you become better.” We have to remind ourselves daily that our goal is to be better today than we were yesterday, and have a plan in place to become even better tomorrow.


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