There is a new game sweeping the nation. Have you heard of it? Almost everyone is playing. It can be addictive and fun to start with, but over the long term players report rampant dissatisfaction, absence of joy and a low gratitude count. This game has become really popular lately. It's called "comparisonitus".
The habit of continually comparing ourselves to others is a habit of thought that can seriously impair the satisfaction we experience with our lives. We all do it though! We all have thoughts comparing ourselves to others, and finding them thinner, richer, happier, calmer, having more fun, more sex, more travel, more love. Of course, most of the time we play "comparisonitus" we lose.
We feel old. Or tired. Or fat. Or lonely. Or poor. Or boring. It's like the casino that's always rigged in favour of the house. Comparisonitus breeds dissatisfaction with what we DO have.
Why do we keep playing? Because every now and again we win! It's like the thrill of the pokies or the poker table, we don't know when we will win so that's what keeps us coming back for more.
When we win it feels SO good! "Ha! My ass is definitely smaller. Those white jeans are SO not her friend" "Thank God I don't have to do Dave's job, that would be awful, mine is definitely better" "Their marriage really is rocky, ours is so much better than that". And so on. When we come out on the upside it feels good enough to have us going back for more.
Comparisonitus is as addictive as a playstation to a teenage boy.
Of course many of our workplaces are highly competitive. We rank ourselves against our competition and track performance against others. It's a way of life that pushes us forwards. Healthy competition is, well, healthy. Endless personal comparisonitus, however, is not. I remember the first beginners' yoga class I went to in London.
The teacher said "There is no competition here. Do not compare how you do with the person on the mat next to you. Just be happy with what you can do. No comparison, not even with yourself." As an ambitious young executive my mind boggled at this concept. What was she on about? I lived and breathed such a competitive world that it was a totally foreign concept "no competition? How can that be?" My adrenalin-addicted brain struggled to get round it as a possibility.
My whole life was competitive, school, university, work. As far as I could tell life was one long competition. Not so. As it turned out the more I relaxed into the yoga course, the more I realised that having an oasis of time in my week that was non-competitive, non-comparing was actually delicious. To mentally sink into a time where I was enough just as I was. Whatever I achieved was perfect. "I have enough. I do enough. I am enough". It was a revelation.
Endless comparing is insidious. It makes us feel inadequate on some level. Comparing your inside with someone else's outside is a loser's game.
It robs us of the joy of what we actually have in our lives. It takes our focus from what we do have (which, let's face it, is a blessed life: we have more than 95 per cent of the world's population, we have clean water on tap, free choice, a truly abundant place to live and so on).
When we break this thought pattern we will release a whole heap of joy and happiness back into our lives.
Instigate a mental comparison-free zone, just for an hour. Watch your thoughts (you can note them in your journal or workbook) and see when and how often you are playing comparisonitus. Choose to stop playing just for an hour. Focus on what you have in your blessed life. Know that you are perfectly imperfect, just as you are.
Join me for the beginners' yoga courses starting May 6 in a non-compeititive,
judgment free zone!. Limited places, sign up at positivebalance.co.nz
Louise Thompson is a life coach, yoga teacher and corporate escapee. For more from Louise visit positivebalance.co.nz.