October is boat show month in Ft. Lauderdale. The massive, gleaming megayachts are in town, shined up and lined up in an impressive display of wealth, engineering and design. Those who don’t see this everyday, walk the docks in awe. We pick out our favorites. We compare and marvel at different designs. We also like to compare other things in our lives. We compare expensive cars, large homes and a variety of shiny things. It’s interesting and can be enjoyable.
However, as a life coach who deals with our human habits, thoughts and issues, I constantly steer clients away from comparing lives.
I think most of us understand the futile nature of trying to compare ourselves to others. We all probably have done it, but it never really makes of us feel any better in the process. Think about it, how do you feel at the moment when you are comparing your sense of lacking something that someone else has? Usually, it is more like feelings of regret, inferiority and possible envy.
“Envy is ever joined with the comparing of a man’s self; and where there is no comparison, no envy,” said Sir Francis Bacon.
There is also danger of drifting off into the dead sea of “losers” and “winners” and what “success” looks like. Those waters can be toxic, my friends. Get out of there and get on a different tack before you find yourself in a minefield of external comparisons.
Somewhere along the way, we have decided that we could determine who is living a more valuable life by comparing clothes, cars, paychecks, beauty or when it gets really nuts; twitter followers or Facebook “friends”. None of these are good indicators of self-worth.
Another negative effect from comparing your life to another, is when you focusing too much on the wrong life. Never mind what “they” have. You are not them and they are not you. Be yourself; and understand and appreciate yourself. When Socrates stated, “the unexamined life is not worth living,” he wasn’t talking about the examination of others’ lives, he meant your own life. You have gifts and talents that are uniquely yours. Honor those and derive your thoughts from that place and you will feel better than loitering in a place of comparisons.
One of two things tend to happen when comparing lives and neither is good. First is feeling less-than because you compare what you lack to what someone else has. And the other is feeling self-righteous because you’ve compared what you have with what someone else does not.
Either way is a losing game. I know the temptation to compare lives may never be eliminated, but you can minimize the time you do it. First of all, be aware and recognize the problems with comparing yourself to another. Ask yourself why you would want any habit in your life that promotes feelings of inferiority? Another thing, is that the life you are thinking is so much better or superior to yours can be an illusion. Those in the yachting industry can attest to that.
As yacht crew you have an insider’s view, sometimes a front row seat, to observe and get to know the lives of the super wealthy. What you often notice is it’s not always so pretty and perfect. People with lots of money and possessions can have a lot of issues and problems just like anyone else. Celebrate who you are and what you have to be thankful and grateful for. Value the inner qualities of generosity, kindness, compassion and love. If you possess these inner treasures, let me tell you something, you are rich.
Laugh, laugh with some good friends and have an inner knowledge that you have a good soul and that things are going to work out just fine. And know that you are rich.
By all means, learn from other people. Be inspired by other people, ask them questions, seek their advice but stop the comparison game. You will feel more at peace, more focused on what matters in your life and become a better friend, co-worker, parent and partner. Do
those things as well as understand, appreciate and nurture your own attributes and I promise there will be less time and less need for comparisons.
Rob Gannon is a 25-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach (yachtcrewcoach.com). Comments on this column are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.