“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Who said it? Any takers? That’s OK. I’ll tell you later. Maybe I won’t, I guess you’ll have to keep reading.
Wise words, though. Spoken at a time before there was such a thing as social media (yes, even MySpace), before the internet, and even before Betty White.
The reason I bring this up is to point out that we seem to have always done this. Stolen our own joy by being unhappy with what we have or have done because it is what we perceive as less than what someone else has already had or has accomplished.
And it is common. I might venture to say that I would not believe you if you looked me in the eyes and told me you never felt unhappiness with your own life or work after comparing it to someone else. I don’t believe you if you say you have never, not once, compared yourself to another. And doesn’t that feeling absolutely suck? I know I am incredibly guilty of this. I will be very transparent and say that often times people’s successes don’t necessarily make me feel bad about what I have accomplished, but I will say, “What does it say about me that I haven’t managed to do this?” I use it to highlight my self-proclaimed short-comings. Boom. Joy stolen by none other than myself.
Since we don’t need to go down that wormhole, I want to go back to why I mentioned how old the quote is. It came at a time when the only form of social media was the newspaper. Mail traveled by foot and not the internet. You weren’t able to compare yourself to nearly as many people.
Now the world is at your fingertips.
You can compare yourself to everyone around the world. And the term “celebrity” has become looser and looser. You can be a celebrity due to your work in the entertainment industry but now you can be an Instagram celebrity by simply having the right lighting.
And because of that, and because of how big of a platform social media has become, and because of the fact that so many jobs require you to be on social media to an extent, it can become very easy to let yourself get down about what you think are all your short-comings.
It becomes easy to forget that very few people show the bad days, the missed opportunities. And I find that it can become even more challenging in the realm of fitness (especially for women).
We come into the gym. Sometimes it’s before the sun is up. You still have marks on the left side of your face from your pillow. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the work day and you don’t have time to care if your socks match (or if you even remembered to pack them) on your lunch break. And sometimes it’s after work, when you’re dog tired.
You work, workout, shower, come home.
And maybe as the day winds down you log into your account and are bombarded with pages of people with families and full time jobs somehow finding time to crush it in the gym and look fit AF. They all look the part. They seem to sweat in the right places, it never looks like they peed on themselves. And they are hitting all of their lifts. Some of them don’t even seem to have ugly lifting faces. Meanwhile you’re just trying to keep you hair out of your face, sweat out of your eyes, and your bladder in check so you can jump rope a few times. And suddenly, your hour of fitness, where you kicked ass and took names, suddenly doesn’t feel like enough.
And that’s where it sucks. It is truly draining to feel badly about yourself and your progress. And you shouldn’t. Ever.
So next time you find yourself feeling that way, take a step back. Find your “why” or maybe find it again. Show up everyday. Fall in love with the process. Remember that you can only control yourself. That is truly enough.
James Clear, author of ‘Atomic Habits’ said:
“The implicit assumption behind any goal is this: ‘Once I reach my goal. Then I’ll be happy.’ The problem with a goals-first mentality is that you’re continually putting happiness off until the next milestone… When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy.”
By the way, it was Teddy. Theodore Roosevelt.
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