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When You Fall Into the Trap of Envying and Comparing Yourself to Healthy People

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“Don’t set sail on someone else’s star.” – African proverb

What is the Problem With Comparison?
Ah, comparison, one of the greatest sources of self-inflicted, needless struggling. So why don’t we all just stop? Easier said than done.

“Am I smarter? Am I better looking?” These are common questions that most of us ask ourselves, no matter our standing in society. Those of us with chronic illnesses can also fall into an extra trap — we may envy the average person’s possession of good health. Our hearts simmer with self-righteous rage, as we judge them for “self abuse.” “Why is he partying so hard to the point of self harm?! Why is that couch potato not doing something useful with her life?! Now if I had their good fortune, imagine what I’d do!”

So what’s the problem with all the continuous comparing? Apart from being the root of endless unhappiness, it’s unrealistic to begin with. Who you were yesterday isn’t quite the same as who you are today. The persona that’s expected of you changes with your environment. The energy levels and tools you possess vary from day to day. The everyday circumstances, schedules and responsibilities are not exact replications. Your thought processes and choice of focus should and have the capacity to change within seconds. You are an unstable fluctuation, just going by the simple fact that you are alive and mortal. You might be able to control the temperature of your life, but not the bubbles pulsing through.

No Two People’s Paths Are Quite the Same
Your life destination is your own special mission, and it differs for everyone. The constellations you use to navigate through life might be right for you, but not for me. I will only lose my way if I follow them. They might overlap, but no two person’s ending points are a complete match. Your journey might even take you in the opposite direction. To follow in the shadow of someone else isn’t just a waste of time, it is also a waste of energy and resources.

What Should We Compare Ourselves Against?
If we really need a benchmark for comparison, I suppose we could use personal growth as a measurement. How we have gained knowledge, garnered valuable experiences, or refined our thoughts and character.

Some days I do a certain number of laps at the pool, and should I achieve less the following session, I become upset. Which is pretty ridiculous for obvious reasons. My energy supplies and pain levels fluctuate. Is there a point in blaming myself for accomplishing “less” today? And even if I were feeling fine, what is the reason behind my disappointment? Is it ego?

So I suppose we need to step back to reassess our personal priorities from time to time. To adjust our sails in the right direction, and head towards our own destiny, just as we are.

“All you have to do is know where you’re going. The answers will come to you of their own accord.” – Earl Nightingale

“For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.” – Viktor Frankl

“Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead… so why… be afraid of death, when death comes all the time?” – John Updike

Originally published: July 14, 2016
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