While we all know that comparison is the thief of joy, you might be subconsciously encouraging this happiness bandit, and I don’t just mean scrolling the Arch Digest Insta feed. 

I’ve found a new means of comparison in my own life, and spoiler alert, it sucks.

Like many of you, I’ve been feeling down about my fitness after lockdown life ate my gym routine. I’ve lost strength, endurance, and the hope of ever getting definition in my abs. So the other day, I took a circuit training class. 

While I love classes, I went in feeling self-conscious. I kept wanting to shout, just so you know, this is nowhere near my best! As if the trainer cared in the slightest.

As I was doing yet another set of burpees (the devil’s preferred exercise, I’m sure), I saw the woman next to me struggling in the mirror and thought, well at least I’m doing better than her.

What a biotch

Me, of course, not her.

My mind was trying to make me feel better–but it did so through terrible means. 

We normally think of comparison as looking to our peers and thinking, why haven’t I found a spouse? Or seeing a magazine and wondering, why doesn’t my house look like that?

But the opposite–at least I don’t look like that and I’m doing better than she is–are also unhelpful.

Comparing ourselves to others when we feel like we’re “better” is just as bad as comparing ourselves to aspirational examples. 

Maybe it’s worse. We’re trying to boost our own confidence, which can be necessary, but doing so this way becomes a bad habit.

I immediately regretted my thought, though the lesson was clear. At the end of the day, comparison is a problem no matter which direction it goes. 

And though I hate confronting these negative parts of myself, it’s the only way to grow. I hope my lesson can help you skip this one for yourself.

To being better without delighting in your cousin’s terrible sugar cookies every Christmas,