Your Comparisons Are Poisoning You
"Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations."
- Alan Watts
I was at a flower shop the other day, and I had a hard time deciding which flowers to get. I kept grabbing one bouquet after another. On the one hand, they all looked the same; on the other, they were all different. They all looked pretty! And I struggled to pick out the one that was especially beautiful.
Then it hit me.
Not one of those flowers made the effort to compete with the others for my attention.
They were too busy being the best, most beautiful goddamn flower they could be!
A white rose was not glancing over to a yellow tulip, comparing itself, nor was an orchid competing with a cactus.
That'd be foolish, right?
So why do you and I do it? Why do we compare ourselves with other people, and then exhaust ourselves vying for attention from others?
We forget our essence.
Just like every flower out there, each of us, too, has an essence. There's no such a thing as a "better" or "worse" essence. Whatever our essence is, we must value it. We must cherish it. And, we must not compare it to others.
Each time we make a comparison, we fail to acknowledge our own essence in favor of someone else's. And by doing so, we feed our proverbial soil with poison, instead of water.
Not everyone will like our essence.
Just like I was not drawn to every flower.
But did the other flowers care?
Of course not.
Not being liked by everyone—or anyone, for that matter—does not mean you should not value yourself, or that you are somehow not valuable.
You might be compelled to compare yourself to others who are "better" than you or have a "better" life than you, because you struggle to accept your circumstances—those at the time of your birth and all of those since.
This is a function of our ego, and a heavy burden to carry.
We cannot affect the hand we have been dealt, but we can decide how to play it.
The Sun never asks, "Why am I a sun, and what if others don't like me?" The Sun simply does its thing. It shines brightly. When we realize that we, too, can do the same—accept ourselves and our essence—we light up the whole world.
SO, you're wondering, how do we do that?
1. Take the time to find yourself. Figure out what makes you tick. What's important to you. What is it that you value, and what is the life you want to live?
2. Accept your fundamental goodness. This means radically accepting who you are, including your very fundamental humanity. You had nothing to do with who your parents are, or your appearance, your sexuality, race, socio-economic status at birth, nationality, gender identity, disability, etc. Regardless of any of it, you're good and worthy. (If anyone tells you otherwise, they're lying!)
3. Take responsibility for the things you can control, like the career you choose, the people you surround yourself with, the kind of life you want to lead, and the dreams you choose to pursue. You have no choice about the things under #2, but who you grow up to be and how you choose to live is entirely up to you.
4. Run your own race. Just like our fingerprints, each of our stories is unique. Focus on writing your own story, and if you catch yourself comparing yourself to others, revisit 1, 2, and 3. If you don't know who you are, it's not possible to know your own essence. Without radically accepting your own fundamental goodness, you cannot possibly focus on the things you can, in fact, control. Result: you'll forget you in exchange for others. Don't do it. You're meant to live your life, not someone else's.
Now, go ahead and get yourself a bouquet of flowers and remember that you are just as beautiful as they are.