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The Nature of Comparison

A year and a half ago, I wrote down a few thoughts on comparison (2 min read), and I've been thinking about it even more recently.

Comparison is a fool's game.

I'd like to explore why we compare and ask if there's a way we can change how quickly we default to it.

Let's start with a question.

Why do we compare so easily?

We use our eyes to see things, and use our thoughts to notice them.

Our difficulty in separating the seeing from the noticing is what make comparison so easy.

When we notice something, we name it. That's how we know we've noticed it.

By that I don't mean we give it a proper name, I mean that we start telling ourselves a story about it.

A tree becomes a cedar or a maple. A bird becomes a Blue Jay or a Finch. A stranger becomes an athlete or a stylish dresser.

If we're gifted with sight, seeing is inevitable.

Noticing, is a choice.

Often it's a choice we make too quickly.

There's likely some evolutionary explanation behind why we choose to notice so quickly.

You know, evaluating threats and all that.

Noticing, is the gateway to comparison.

Time for another question.

How do we see and not notice?

Maybe that's too hard.

Perhaps we could think about it a bit differently.

How might we see, notice, and tell a different story?

I think this is more possible.

It requires changing what we notice.

Think of what you do when you look in a mirror.

It doesn't even have to be a mirror, just imagine walking by any kind of reflective surface where you see yourself in full view.

If you're a human being, you're very likely checking yourself out in some way.

Adjusting something, judging, essentially ... noticing.

It's safe to say that when you look at a mirror, you notice yourself.

Imagine instead, you try to notice the mirror.

Its length, its height, its trim, its attachments.

This is not our default, but it's entirely possible to do.

Our default is to notice something and relate it to ourselves. This is where comparison lives. It's seeing ourselves in the mirror.

What if we could move that default to noticing something and getting curious about the thing itself?

A tree isn't a tree, it's a tall, hard-to-move thing, with a large chunk of brown, and several shades of green. A bird isn't a bird, it's a small, fast-moving thing, with a powerful voice. A stranger is a human being, with black hair, a slim face, and slight shoulders.

Noticing, is a choice.

Choose differently.

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