Comparison is a Losing Game

We all compare lives. Whether we like to admit it or not.

We read the blogs, share a coffee and a chat, see each other at parties – and we compare.

“She has it all together and she works/has 4 kids/runs her own business/exercises every day/always looks immaculate/has lots of money/has well-behaved kids/is happy.” Choose your own ending.

I’m here to tell you that comparison is a losing game. As Joshua Becker puts it (and I paraphrase):


“You inevitably compare the best of them to the worst of yourself – because it is the best of them you see and the worst of yourself you know.”


It’s also easy to compare. It gives you permission to say, “Well, I would be able to exercise every day if my husband didn’t work such long hours/if my kids slept/if I didn’t have to clean the house/if…if…if.”

I’m not saying these are anything but valid reasons. But I am saying that comparisons are a dangerous way to view yourself in the world, because inevitably, you will come out on the bottom.

We can’t compare our lives to the lives of others because:

  • we are not them
  • they are not us
  • our kids aren’t their kids
  • our partners aren’t their partners
  • our upbringing wasn’t their upbringing (even if you’re siblings – we each tread a different path)
  • our current circumstances aren’t their current circumstances
  • our strengths are not their strengths
  • our weaknesses are not their weaknesses

If you do compare lives, you’re comparing apples to underpants; oranges to hand saws; bananas to hammocks. It’s a losing game.

And you will always wind up doing one of two things:

  1. feeling less-than because you compare your worst to their best
  2. feeling self-righteous because you’ve compared your best with someone else’s worst – which feeds more into this negative cycle, eventually bringing you back to #1 anyway.

So, by all means, learn from other people, be inspired by other people, be instructed by them, ask them questions, seek their advice – but please, please, please, let’s stop the comparison game. I promise you will feel more at peace, more focused on what matters in your life and a better friend, parent and partner to boot.

Do you find yourself often playing the comparison game? I know I do. But I’m finding that the more aware I am of it, and of how it makes me feel, the less I indulge my inner-torturer. Give it a whirl and let me know how you go!

If you’re looking for some fabulous articles on this same topic, I’d suggest you take a peek at this wonderful post on Becoming Minimalist and this post from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.



5 Responses to Comparison is a Losing Game

  1. wonderful reminder of the painfully obvious. i will be re-reading this post fairly often. . .
    thank you.