Comparison: The Thief of Happiness and Purpose

By Adunke Olatunji

It is all too easy to look at the lives of those around you and feel like they’ve got it all sorted. That’s because we have an idealised perception of other people’s lives. Social media magnifies this effect by only showing us the carefully selected snapshots.

This can lead us to feeling like our own lives aren’t nearly as great.
We are drawn into comparisons between what we have and what others seem to have.

This is an important distinction to make.
We know the things that aren’t going so well for us but we can’t see a complete picture of what life is like for those we are measuring ourselves against.

So what can you do?
The trick here is not to compare ourselves with others. This is because envy is a powerful but insidious emotion. There will always be someone richer, more accomplished, better looking, more physically fit.

This is because we are all unique and therefore have different individual strengths. The challenge is that you have no control over other people’s strengths. Only your own.

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Therefore, a better approach is to compare your current self with your former self.
It’s a much fairer from of comparison as you actually have control over it. Many are not happy today because they are comparing their lives with others. The truth is everyone has a unique gift. Focus on yourself and realise your special gift. Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to other people.

“Comparison with myself brings improvement, comparison with others brings discontent.” – Betty Jamie Chung.

All you need to do is to set yourself a goal to improve an area of your life. This could be to get into better shape or to learn a new skill. As you work towards your goal, you will be able to see an improvement versus your old self which is one comparison you will finally feel good about drawing.

At worst, when we compare ourselves to others we end up focusing our energy on bringing them down instead of raising ourselves up.

There is one thing that you’re better at than other people: being you. This is the only game you can really win.

When you start with this mindset the world starts to look better again. No longer are you focused on where you stand relative to others. Instead, your focus and energy is placed on what you’re capable of now and how you can improve yourself.

Life becomes about being a better version of yourself. And when that happens, your effort and energy go toward upgrading your personal operating system every day, not worrying about what your coworkers are doing. You become happier, free from the shackles of false comparisons and focused on the present moment.

When what you do doesn’t meet the expectations of others, too bad. The way they look at you is the same way you were looking at them, though a distorted lens shaped by experiences and expectations. What really matters is what you think about what you do, what your standards are, what you can learn today.

That’s not an excuse to ignore thoughtful opinions other people might give you a picture of how you fall short of being your best self. Instead, it’s a reminder to compare yourself to who you were this morning. Are you better than you were when you woke up? If not, you’ve wasted a day. It’s less about others and more about how you improve relative to who you were.

When you stop comparing between people and focus internally, you start being better at what really matters: being you. It’s simple but not easy.

The most important things in life are measured internally. Thinking about what matters to you is hard. Playing to someone else’s scoreboard is easy, that’s why a lot of people do it. But winning the wrong game is pointless and empty. You get one life. Play your own game.

Knowing who you compare your life with is another reason one must tread with caution. The basis of comparison is not always equal and can never be the same, conditions under which each person operates is different. To obtain great result, the inputs must be deliberate and determined. For those who look at the results without doing a deep and thorough research work of their conditions may not be competitive enough for valid comparison. Always be real and push further for the best. At this point, it will not only be a comparison but as a model which others follow.

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Published By: EDITOR

CARL UMEGBORO is a prolific writer, public affairs analyst and an Associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB Hons) and a renowned columnist in all national newspapers in Nigeria, Africa Press Reviews, TheWorldNEWS and numerous foreign media including Park Chester Times, New York, USA. Umegboro is a regular guest-analyst to many TV and radio programme on crucial national issues. To send your opinions, articles and reports to the Admin, contact: +234 (0) 802 318 4542, +234 (0) 705 710 1974, +234 (0) 817 318 4542. Email:,

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