I had never heard of this saying about comparison, even though it is credited to Theodore Roosevelt.
The expression refers to the notion that comparing your work, your life, or whatever else will only serve to make you unhappy.
I came across the saying while reading an interview with Adam Grant, Wharton professor and successful author.
Grant agrees with the phrase, and is worried that social media amplifies the problems associated with such comparisons. Today, kids have constant access to what everyone else is doing, and how everyone else is looking.
In general, people typically only put their best photos and experiences online, so it creates an unrealistic portrait of their lives. But that is what kids, and adults, are comparing themselves to, and they often find themselves lacking in those comparisons. So yes, comparison is the theft of joy.
Grant instead suggests that there is only one comparison that matters, and that is comparing yourself to your past self. That was you can track progress on your goals and not get caught up in trying to live someone else’s life.
I’ll admit that I am guilty of using social media to compare myself to others – why does someone have more friends than me, or more likes, or more followers.
I know on a deeper level those things don’t matter, but I still do it anyway.
But after learning about this phrase that was first uttered over 100 years ago and realizing it is still relevant today, I need to take the words to heart if I want more joy in my life.
So I will try to focus more on comparing myself to my former self.
So here’s a start – three years ago I wrote a blog titled, How My Twitter Following Went from 250 to 253 in Just One Week!.
Well if I fast forward to today, I am up to a whopping 2,382 Twitter followers. I should be happy with that, and not tempted to compare that number to ones like the 108 million followers of Katy Perry or the 105 million followers of Justin Bieber.
Oops, I did it again…
I just lost all the joy associated with that nearly 10 fold increase in followers…
Dang that Katy Perry!