Been pondering something we do everyday, almost without
thinking, that powerfully affects how we feel about ourselves
and what we’re doing.
The neat thing is that as we become aware of this, we can
consciously use this tendency in a way that purposefully
Whether it’s with our health, our weight, our “productiveness”
and “success”, our parenting, our relationships, or something
…I’ve found that how we feel in a given moment is often
directly impacted by what we choose to “compare to.”
Even just for ourselves—-are we comparing to what’s gone before,
and noting the progress we’ve made…or are we comparing to
what hasn’t happened yet, and feeling frustrated or overwhelmed,
or even a “failure”?
It’s interesting how our brains work.
Dan Ariely, a researcher formerly from my alma mater MIT, a
great TED speaker, and author of Predictably Irrational, has
pointed out that human beings tend to assign value only in
reference to something else. I once heard him give the example
of Olympic medalists, asking, “Who do you think is generally
happier with their medal – silver medalists, or bronze medalists?”
The natural thought would be that silver is better than bronze,
but his research showed that the bronze medalists were generally
happier, and his reasoning was that the silver medalists looked
at the gold and felt badly that they came so close and didn’t
“make it”, whereas the bronze medalists looked at all the others
who didn’t get a medal, and were glad they got a medal at all…
So back to us and our daily lives – now that you know your brain
is constantly looking for references to “compare to” and decide
how to feel, you can choose to compare in ways that feel good…
that inspire you to move forward…
rather than ways that overwhelm you or shut you down.
Begin by finding something to appreciate…something you’ve done
well, something that’s gone well…maybe right now it’s just your
own awareness or the potential for things to be different now
that you’re thinking differently.
Next, focus on progress…compare in ways that you feel good about
the progress you’re making…if there’s no outward “progress” yet,
begin by noting that your direction is different.
Perhaps the progress is simply that you’ve held a certain focus or
direction longer than before.
In fact, what direction you’re heading is so much more important
than where you are right now. (You can read more about that here.)
In the meantime, throughout the day, ask yourself, “What am I
comparing to?” and consciously choose comparisons that inspire you
to move forward, rather than those that make you feel small or
How about leaving a comment about your own comparisons and
I look forward to hearing from you!
P.S. Been enjoying this music from Hayley Westenra as I write this,
and thought I’d post it directly for you here. Enjoy!