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Comparison and Immediate Gratification

Comparison is a fool's game.

There is just so much that you cannot account for when you compare yourself to somebody else.

We might fool ourselves into thinking that because our lives are seemingly able to be more 'public' thanks to social media (and even traditional media), all of a sudden we might 'know' what someone else's life is actually like.

We don't.

Situational effects are rarely visible, even to those in them.

And situations influence behaviour to a higher degree than almost any other single factor.

What makes this extremely hard is that comparison is everywhere, and it's so easily accessible.

One I've personally struggled with is reading or listening to figures who have a big influence on me. I want to become like them, tomorrow. It's just silly.

Our conditioning of immediate gratification doesn't help. At all.

Many people reading this sentence are privileged to have near-immediate access to a lot of things. And technology is racing to help make things even more immediate for us.

When you add this truth together with the omnipresence of comparison, the feeling of wanting what someone else has or wanting to be like someone else is almost a natural and inevitable outcome.

When you play the comparison game, I believe you're discounting the following:

  • Situational effects - Which I outlined above.

  • Compounding effects - Which are slow, and also hard to see, even for those experiencing them.

  • Work in the dark - Essentially the work you're doing that no one else can see. I wrote about this previously. If you've got one minute to spare, you can read the post here.

  • Luck/serendipity/fate/you get the idea - I recently read a beautiful question in a book (which I forgot to write down), but it was something like, how much of what you value the most right now is thanks to events that were completely out of your control in the past?

I'd like to end with the only benefit of comparison.

You can use it as a part of a compass to ask yourself if you're heading in the right direction.

That's it.

Beyond that, drop comparison altogether.

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