“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
Why don’t we try to lift each other up more? Why don’t we encourage each other’s greatness instead of trying to outdo, outsmart and outshine. Well, many of us do. But I find it is the comparing that is the eroding thread in our personal joy.
As soon as we begin to compare one aspect of ourselves to others, we lose. Life isn’t about out performing because of the person in front of you or next to you. Try to outperform yourself instead. I am learning this the hard way. Which is always effective eventually.
Opening a yoga studio after being a nurse for nearly eleven years wasn’t exactly on my goals when I graduated at 21. In fact, I didn’t even do yoga. But our passion and love is like the river, it flows where flows, and sometimes that is into an entire new lake. So I took the plunge, went against all of the “supposed tos and musts” and did something scary.
Well, not everyone likes a risk taker, even if they are the best of intentioned. Mostly I was met with love, encouragement and beautiful support (Probably from many of you reading this). But it hasn’t been all butterflies and rainbows (though lots of rainbows have been referenced). I was also met with some resistance, anger, and even open nastiness. And maybe 5% of that reception was the latter. I soon found my time not being consumed with the love and support 95% – but the 5% of negativity.
Why is it so easy to let the tiny bit of negative drown out the huge amount of positive? Well, I believe comparision is the get-a-way car my brain takes out of Happyville. Yoga means union, right? With each other and our inner most selves. So why focus on things that don’t help me on my journey of yoga? I began to compare my performance with others, whether what I was doing was upsetting these critics more. I began worrying about their reception to things and not my own. I began to lose sight of the beauty and absolute privilege I have to hold safe space for people to unite with each other and themselves.
I let comparison steal my joy. And one day I finally found myself being unhappy with someone simply for the fact that they were happy with an accomplishment of their own. And that is what it took for me wake up. I believe years of a personal yoga and meditation practice have helped me be able to witness thoughts like that before they become corroding threads. And I did. I was so upset with myself that I had this thought. I felt extremely uneasy that I was able to think like this about others. That I was allowing this constant comparing eat at me.
And that’s when I made a conscious effort to wish people success, wellness and happiness. No matter what their take on me was. I was able to hit the reset button and return back to when I was opening the studio – that frame of mind. To help people. That is all I have ever wanted to do for a living. That’s why I became a nurse. And along the way I have realized that is how I most help myself.
We cannot live happy if we are living our lives based on others opinions of us, or others parallel accomplishments or failures, or others greatness or weakness. We must live from the INSIDE out, not the other way around. Yoga helps us unite with the inner universe and worry less about the outer. It shows us how to reach for the external things less, and start letting go of things more. I cannot use others as a barometer for my joy. I cannot compare and be at peace with myself.
I am so grateful for yoga. I am so grateful for Athens, GA and the community at M3. I am so grateful to the 95% of people who have encouraged and lifted me up in so many ways. But I also am grateful for that 5%. I have been able to experience first hand where comparing gets me. And hated every moment of it. It is such a valuable lesson. And I also am able to have so much compassion for people who may be unkind to me, wish me unwell, or anyone for that matter. I know what it is like for comparison to steal joy. I know where it can take you.
So take a moment to wish well the people and things you have been comparing yourself to. Take a moment to steal your joy back. Eff what anyone else thinks and live more from your heart space and less from your mind space. And maybe do some yoga and eat your veggies.