“Comparison is the thief of joy”…and yet we still do it.
To be fair it seems to be built into our psyche, whether it’s articles in our favourite magazines about how to look/feel/act like [insert your favourite celebrity here] or just scrolling through endless displays of #lifegoals on your social media feed, comparison is the context through which we evaluate our lives. One thing I have learned, though, is sometimes a simple flip of perspective is all that is needed to curb whispers of dissatisfaction before they blossom into full blown resentment or jealousy. It’s like a “love-yourself-life-hack”. Let me show you how it can work…
The Trigger: Another one of your friends just got into a new relationship/got engaged/just got married [delete as applicable] and it reaffirms your sad, sad status as “The Single Friend”.
Comparison: You torture yourself with vivid depictions of someone else’s happily-ever-after and wonder what fatal flaw you’ve been cursed with which means that you’ll never, ever be loved.
Contentment: There’s more to relationships than romance and roses. An overdue phone call or spontaneous text to nurture a missed friendship or neglected family member is a nice distraction from public displays of perfection and affection. Love takes many forms, share it and feel it return.
The Trigger: You meet with a friend to catch-up over dinner and she tells you about the amazing job she just got with an impressive salary and juicy corporate perks in an industry she loves.
Comparison: You silently question every life choice you’ve ever made until now, while wholeheartedly resenting that lucky £$*%& who has had everything handed to her on a silver, money-lined platter.
Contentment: What could you learn from her success if you stopped foaming at the mouth for a second? The smallest piece of advice could be just the encouragement you need to inspire you with your own career or corporate aspirations, and there’s nothing like a heart-to-heart over good food to bond with an old friend.
The Trigger: Today seems to be the day that everyone you follow on Instagram is confirming how good their lives really are by posting amazing pics from their third-holiday-this-year, fancy #foodporn from their date-with-bae or their delicious new purchases from whatever-designer-brand-you-can’t-afford.
Comparison: You feel sorry for yourself and your sorry, sorry bank account balance. You work so hard, surely you deserve something nice! You must be in the wrong job, the wrong social circle, the wrong life…
Contentment: Your budget may not stretch to a tropical holiday or Michelin-starred meal right now, but you can still live small-small (as us Nigerians are fond of saying). A Saturday afternoon discovering or rediscovering a nice hangout spot in your ‘hood is a definite option, as is stocking up on the good ingredients from your supermarket’s “finest” selection and treating yourself to home-cooked fine dining. You still won’t be able to afford that really expensive rose gold watch, but at least you’re enjoying while you’re not buying it. 🙂
“She Looks OK…I Guess…”
The Trigger: Your new co-worker is flipping gorgeous and every day you have to sit next to her, you feel more and more like a PlayStation 2 graphic from the early 00s while she’s just glowing like a 3D HD render of Beyonce on her wedding day.
Comparison: You could compete for office beauty queen like the corridors were a catwalk (cue a YouTube makeup tutorial marathon into the early morning – this could backfire though as you’ll have bags/dark circles the next day) or you could just act cold and aloof (lessons you learned from Mean Girls). Also, each time she smiles at you, you have to bite the inside of your cheeks so you don’t spit venom in her pretty little face.
Contentment: When you’re feeling rough around the edges, a little pampering and TLC goes a long way. A luxurious soak in the bath or a fresh coat of your favourite nail polish can add a bit of pep in your step, or turn any fake smile into an award-winning grin with an evening in front of your favourite TV show with a good face mask. Because you’re worth it, innit.
Now, depending on your temperament it can take a little bit of practice before your knee-jerk reaction to the good fortune of others is not soul-destroying jealousy, but if you want it to happen it will. I went to an all girls school (no better on-the-job training to be found), but I’m definitely not an expert, so feel free to share your coping mechanisms with defeating the comparison gremlin…