I recently read a quote by Shauna Niequist,
“With people, you can connect or compare but you can’t do both.”
I’ve mulled over this quote for weeks now. I’m super passionate about connection. About relationship. About family. About community. So, as I’ve been pondering this thought, I’ve realized that with my passion about connection, I must be intentional about keeping comparison at bay in my life.
The trap of comparison is thick. Men and women, both are guilty. We want to see how we measure up to the rest of humanity. It’s easy to get caught up in this measuring game every single day. We have this weird desire to see where we stand in the line up, some ranking ‘higher’ than us while we place others ‘lower’ than us – on the parenting scale, the health and fitness scale, the career scale, the ‘success’ scale. Choose any scale you like and see where you fit.
But the thing about comparison is that the minute we start partaking, we lose out on the connection that could be had with that person. If I start comparing my mothering skills to that of my best friend, instantly I create a distance in my heart towards her. If I start comparing my artistic skills to someone I see on Instagram, I lose out on the ability to learn from them. If I start comparing my accomplishments with that of my co-worker, I begin to feel resentment creep in. All of these things break connection with people that, if I maintain relationship with (no matter how distant), I am a better person. I need to stay connected to be a better me.
Comparison can only lead to a feeling of elitism -when you feel you’re doing better in that area, or inferiority -when you feel you rank ‘lower’ than the other person. Going through life with either attitude – elitism or inferiority – will keep you from being the best you. When you feel like you’re at the top, you won’t continue to grow and get better, and eventually will become bored in that area. If you feel like you’ll never measure up, you can become depressed and your motivation to even try will fly out the door. Both elitism and inferiority will hold you back and keep you disconnected from others.
The dictionary definition of compare is, “to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences”. If you look up the word, connect, you’ll see, “to join, link or fasten together; unite or bind”. When I start noticing how different you are than me, I begin to lose the ability to stay united or joined together. When we compare instead of live in connection, we become a lone ranger and that’s never fun or even healthy.
So my challenge for myself and for you in 2016 is to be intentional about connection, and that means kicking comparison to the curb anytime it tries to pop up in your heart. We’ll live a happier and more fulfilled new year if we maintain connection with those around us. I’ll be the best me, you’ll be the best you, when we chose to connect instead of compare. And, as Jack Johnson taught us, we truly are “Better Together.”