Comparison is a thief.

It’s quite amazing to me how much time we spend comparing ourselves to others. Seeing as there is no optimal reason to do so tells me this is just another one of those things that has stuck around from our survival days. I mean it never feels good to do, atleast for me. I’d love to know if anyone feels fine doing it. Whether it be comparing looks, success, material posessions, skill sets, or character traits, we seem to care a lot about others lives. Social media has completely amped that up. As the years have gone by, I have successfully stopped comparing many areas of my life. I’m very proud of how much I do not compare my looks to others as it used to rule my every waking thought in ways. It was not a comfortable feeling and absolutely unhelpful. I imagine that’s the same stance for anyone and any comparison.

This makes me think of what I will feel when I’m much older and closer to the end of my life. I want to make sure I enjoyed my life. I vowed by 36 I would stop allowing others and outside forces to inundate my thinking with negative thoughts about my life. I don’t think I made it by the day I turned 36 but definitely by the time I turned 37. I still feel that was much too long. I worked very hard on myself internally by reframing what life is about, what mattered and recognizing the absurdity of wasting time on things that don’t matter and are not helpful and condusive to my outlook. (and, of course, by thinking about the fact that we are on a planet floating through space. That thought never fails to put things into perspective.)

I’ve read all the articles about what people regret about their lives when they are dying and I am taking that seriously. I will spend the next 49 years of my life absolutely relishing it. There are good things here on this earth and while everyone in my life is safe and healthy, I will enjoy each moment as much as I can. Will you be able to tell? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. It really doesn’t matter. I’m not here to try and convince anyone, not even myself. I’m here to enjoy as much as I can because aside from being nice and contributing to society in a positive way, that’s all you can do. It’s everyones purpose, as far as I am concerned.

I want to thank all those that have given their insight about their regrets as they are close to death. Those answers mattered to me. I want to thank the great philosophers Marcus Aurelius and Seneca and the explanations and continued thought by Ryan Holiday in the book The Daily Stoic. Thank you for allowing me to remember that I am a person majorly ruled by logic and carrying me through an understanding that I wish I had accessed earlier.

What’s even more astonishing to me is how people continue to compare themselves, status, posessions all the way until they die. Especially in a world that promotes self-help books and reframed thinking as much as today’s world does. I recently had a conversation with a friend about how this is something I have noticed. Many people who are much older still have these unhelpful thoughts and it made me worried I’d never enjoy life but we decided it may be generational and different values may play a part. Ultimately, I just want everyone to be in a position to enjoy life as much as everyone else. I want all the desired experiences and outlooks for people, whatever those may be. I want everyone to practice gratefulness and know the true beauty of this world. Basically, yes, I want world peace too. All of these thoughts are obviously for those in relatively good situations where their outlook is really the only thing in the way of this. I realize people who are depressed or are oppressed in ways by a system they can’t escape may not be able to see the world in the same way that I’m talking about so I don’t want anyone to mistake what I’m saying for toxic positivity. I just see a lot of people in what I consider good positions in life complaining in a way that I feel they could get out of.

I used to be so ruled by my thinking of how others looked in comparison to me and with all that work, I’ve gotten to a place where I couldn’t care less. Did that take years of work? Yes, but I can remember how I felt and I know how I feel now and I’m just here to say that where I am now is SO much better. I am grateful. A change in values was probably the main culprit of my gratefulness. All I know is that it is worth it and now I can make up for that unhelpful, negative feeling for the next 49 years. It’s now or never to stop comparing and be grateful if you are capable of doing so. Comparison is one of the greatest internal evils and I hope many more are able to conquer it. I don’t think it’s ever too late or too early for that matter. I’ll end this post with thoughts from Marcus Aurelius to drive this point home.

Marcus Aurelius

“In man’s life, time is but a moment; being, a flux; sense is dim; the material frame corruptible; soul, an eddy of breath; fortune a thing inscrutable, and fame precarious.”

“Your mind will be like its habitual thoughts; for the soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”

“If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgment now.”

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