When I saw today’s quote recently, I couldn’t help but think – we can’t help ourselves. But we really can.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”. (Theodore Roosevelt)
Roosevelt added – “It literally steals us away from satisfaction with our own life.”
It is almost impossible for us to not compare ourselves to others – we compare our jobs and pay, our possessions, our families, our positions in the community or at work. Yet those comparisons do not serve us well. Instead of inspiring us to do better; more often than not, they depress us and steal away the joy of what we have already achieved.
In Galatians 6:4-5 we are told – “Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others. Assume your own responsibility.”
I think that last sentence is the key – assume your own responsibility. In other words, worry about being responsible for your own actions and do not waste your time comparing them to the actions of, and achievements of, others.
If you must compare something that you just accomplished to something else, don’t look at the accomplishments of others; use the sports term “personal best” and compare it to your prior performances or to your own goals for your performance. In individual sports, like track and field events, you will often hear that a runner has just achieved a personal best. You can see that they are happy, even if they didn’t win the race, because they were true to themselves and did their best.
Life can be like that on a day-to-day basis. If one sets out each day to achieve their personal best, one can then reflect at the end of the day, not on what others accomplished around you; but, on where you achieved your personal best and upon what areas upon which you still need to improve, to be your best.
Focusing upon the joy of your own accomplishments also frees you to join into and share the joy of others who may have just also achieved their personal best; maybe they even won the race. Good for them. Be happy for them with them and be happy for yourself, too.
Protect yourself from the thief of comparison and it’s traveling companion – envy. Be proud of your own accomplishments – assume responsibility for yourself.
I believe that Teddy was one of our great thinking presidents. He had a brain and used it well.