I had several topics picked out for this month’s blog given all that is happening in the world with the Eclipse, Charlottesville, the flooding in Houston and the unrest with North Korea.
Yet during a deep conversation with a friend, what struck me as most relevant to explore is a trap we all fall into on an almost daily basis that reinforces a feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
We live in a world filled with a ton of Variety. We come in all shapes and sizes and colors with varying skill levels, areas of interests and strengths. Yet instead of that variety unifying us, it has actually created more division. Why? Because we compare ourselves to others and often come up short.
Given the speed at which our lives are moving, the ability we have to connect with others from all over the world and access to technology that elevates our perspective to that of a fly on the wall watching another’s life unfold in High Definition, it’s inevitable that we would experience feeling less than.
However, if I sat a child down and had a discussion on an elementary level, the child would comprehend (very easily) the need for variety and how to celebrate another’s uniqueness.
Let’s take a box of crayons. From the highest perspective, we would look at each crayon and recognize the strengths associated with each color. Green would be honored for its ability to shade grass, trees and a John Deere tractor (let’s be real, who didn’t love coloring the tractor?). Blue for the sky above and water below. Red for a firetruck, volcano and strawberries. White for clouds and the space between.
Now if the colors starting comparing themselves to each other and the white crayon decided it was superior and all the other crayons were less than, that would be crazy. (Especially because the white crayon is probably used the least and all by itself, creates a world of sameness, with no color or contrast. Boring!)
Yet, that is exactly what happens in our lives every day. Not just with color, but with financial status, levels of success, education, shape of our body, brand of our clothes, Facebook status, places we travel, marital status, size of our homes, make of our cars and on and on.
We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and most likely coming up short in some areas and feeling superior in others.
Instead of aiming for uniqueness, we have become enslaved to the forces that encourage sameness.
I know, I know…your ego will tell you that you embrace your uniqueness, you don’t fall into the same trap as everyone else. You’re OK being different and I challenge you to examine that.
I fell into the comparison trap just this weekend.
I met a really interesting guy on a trip to L.A. back in June. We had a long flight and he shared a lot about his life with me. He said that he and his wife were looking for interesting people to befriend and suggested that my husband and I get together with them sometime. I don’t often befriend people I meet on flights but I’m open to the experiences the universe brings me and I was a little flattered that I fell into the category of interesting people. (It wasn’t said with a wide eyed look so I took the word interesting to be from a positive perspective 😉
Well fast forward a couple of months…we planned a wine tasting afternoon together. It was lovely to connect with him and his wife. She is a very successful marketing executive. As I heard her talking about all the amazing companies she has worked for like Coca Cola, Dunkin Donuts, etc. I felt myself thinking…wow, after business school I went a completely different route. Maybe I should have ventured into corporate America? These thoughts were coming in even with my knowing that corporate energy causes me to break out in hives!
The thoughts of comparison led to more thoughts of…comparison. “I bet she has a stellar 401K. Chief Marketing Officer sounds super fancy. Having a career built around something that people actually know must be amazing! How wonderful to only have to focus on one business activity.” And on and on.
By the time we left, I was doubting myself because I didn’t honor my life’s unique shape, size, color, skill level, interests and strengths.
Comparison creates Contention.
Contention is a striving in rivalry; competition; contest.
We are comparing ourselves to people that we know very little about. How insane to be in competition or rivalry with others who are just different then we are. (And thank Source for those differences!)
If we look at what is happening in our world, we can see this same energy of competition being expressed across the Globe. And for what purpose? For individual to battle individual or nation to battle nation in a contest of fake supremacy that can never be achieved because in truth – no one is superior to another?
“Those who understand see themselves in all, and all, in themselves.” —Bhagavad-Gita
The situation provokes deeper contemplation. Where are you engaging comparison in your life? How do you feel afterwards? Where can you honor your gifts and celebrate the uniqueness that each person brings to our colorful world?
When we begin to see the beauty in ourselves as we do in others, we will transform our world.