I remember exactly where I was when I heard someone say that comparison is the thief of joy. I think it hit me so hard because I had just never put two and two together. It seemed so obvious in retrospect- nearly every time I felt suddenly dissatisfied with my own life was a direct result of looking around to see if I measured up to what other people were doing or how they were looking or where they were traveling.
I hate to think about all the time I’ve wasted envying other people’s lives instead of being grateful for my own. I can hardly count the number of times I’ve let myself get sucked into the black hole of Instagram only to emerge 30 minutes later with a heart full of discontent. Never mind the fact that earlier that day I was probably enjoying time with my friends or fiance, maybe going to my favorite yoga class or eating a delicious homemade breakfast in my cozy apartment. Suddenly, it all seemed inferior to what other people were doing in their highlight reels of perfect food and fabulous tans and exotic vacations.
Even though I don’t want to admit it, I think that when I play the comparison game, I am secretly trying to assess whether God is handing out blessings fairly. Wait a minute, I think, that couple just went to Europe AND they’re moving into a new house! With hardwood floors and a trendy kitchen! What I neglect to remember is that God isn’t giving us the blessings we deserve, and that’s a really, really good thing. We deserve nothing from our perfect and holy Creator, yet He lavishes us with grace upon grace. When will I learn that everything in my life is His grace for me??
I have found several antidotes to comparison. The main one for me is gratitude. When I’m busy praising God for what He’s given me, I don’t have time to be jealous of what others have. Another one is to limit my time on social media and make sure I’m following people because I’m legitimately friends with them, not because I want to drool over their fancy wedding or rock-hard abs. These action steps have helped me immensely in cultivating a life of joy rather than one of comparison.
Someone told me once that comparison is a lose-lose situation because it leads to feelings of either inferiority or superiority. Neither of those are places that I want to be, and thankfully, I think there is a better way. We can choose to live free from comparison by instead standing in awe of the gifts God has given us by grace alone.
“For from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” -John 1:16