I recently went to Paint Nite with friends from my book club, where we all tried to copy a painting of the Paris skyline, including the Eiffel tower. At first everyone focused on their own painting, but it wasn’t before long when people started to compare their painting with others, finding that their own painting wasn’t as “good” or that other paintings were more creative, more detailed or less crooked.
It happens all the time on social media as well. We see a former colleague got promoted on LinkedIn and may feel like we are lagging behind. We come across vacation photos from a friend on an exotic island on Facebook and feel a little jealous. We really want to be happy for them, but it is hard to avoid starting to compare, which ends up making us feel bad about ourselves and potentially resentful.
Comparing ourselves is pretty ingrained in us. From an evolutionary perspective, rank and prestige really mattered when we were part of a tribe, so naturally our ancestors were conditioned to compare and rise in rank in order to increase their chances of survival.
But now that most of us would like to pursue happiness rather than only worry about sheer survival, comparing ourselves gets in the way. So what can we do to stop comparing ourselves to others?
Here are 3 tactics that you can try:
1. Embrace Your Uniqueness
Remind yourself that everyone is unique. You are unique, you have unique perspectives, unique gifts and unique experiences. Your life is a unique expression. It cannot be compared to anyone else’s. To make it even more powerful, don’t just say it to yourself, but write it down.
2. Appreciate Your Present and Past
Leo Babauta from Zen Habits suggests appreciating where you are. Just appreciate the moment and be happy where you are.
You can also make a “top 5” list related to what you are comparing. So if you are comparing someone’s experience, make a top 5 list of your most wonderful experiences in your life.
3. Compare With Yourself
Rather than comparing yourself with others, turn it around and compare yourself to where you have been. Celebrate your own progress, growth, and improvements.
With these strategies, I was able to not only appreciate everyone else’s unique paintings, but see mine as unique as well. Plus, while painting may not be my greatest talent, I do have many other talents in other areas. Secondly, I was able to just appreciate the moment, being with friends and trying something new that was fun. And finally, since I had never painted on canvas before, I was able to appreciate my own progress of actually having completed a painting.
Try the tactics out for yourself and let me know what you experience!
Manuela loves helping professional women to feel more confident and fulfilled and bring more happiness into their careers and lives! You can visit Manuela’s Website for Success Life and Career Coaching and check out her upcoming “Secrets to Happiness” Coaching Circles at the upcoming WITI (Women in Technology) Conference on June 5th to 7th, 2016.