It is all too easy to compare our lives with the lives of those around us. If you are reading this, then within a matter of a few quick seconds, you have the ability to open your phone and look on social media, open up different web browsers, and to get a glimpse into the lives of those around you. The moment you do this, you probably begin to envy others because of how amazing their lives are in comparison to yours.
Careful, though. These images and words are deceiving. Not only are we just getting a glimpse into the lives of others, but generally speaking, we are only getting a glimpse of the best. Very rarely will we get a glimpse of anything that resembles the truth.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, who would want others to see their struggles and hardships? When we post to social media, we generally do so to show off how amazing our lives are. The more likes that we are able to manage, the better we feel about ourselves. And so we fall into this endless trap of competing against others to see who can live the most lavish and extraordinary life – at least on social media.
The problem with this is that not only are you comparing your start to the highs of those around you, but when you compete against other people, you are also living your life based on their values and judgments. You are allowing others to determine what’s most important to you instead of defining what’s important to yourself.
Competition itself isn’t bad, but competing against the wrong people is. We are all competitive in some regards. We all want to be victorious, to be number one, and to be the best. But what does the best actually look like? Does it mean being better than everybody around you? Or does it mean being better than the person you were yesterday?
Compete Against Yourself
I will admit that I am a competitive person. I love the acknowledgment that comes with competition, especially the positive. But what I have also come to realize is that while I enjoy competing, the thrill of competition is only temporary. The thrill of competition does not last, and it is also not a feeling that is sustainable. Competition comes with both physical and mental stress. The more I found myself competing against others, the more stress I felt because I was under the pressure of constantly trying to keep up.
What happens when somebody comes along who is better than we are? We start to instantly feel down on ourselves.
What happens when we experience defeat? We beat ourselves up for not being good enough.
What happens when we realize that we are no longer the best? We struggle to find meaning and purpose in our lives and get tossed into the pit of misery that is also known as depression.
The only way to prevent these painful feelings is to compete against yourself instead of competing against all of those around you. You do not have the ability to control others, but you do have the ability to control yourself.
Every morning, you are faced with different choices. You can either choose to allow yourself to revert back towards being the same individual that you were the day before, or you can choose to do everything in your power to improve on the individual that you were the day before and make strides towards becoming the individual that you want to be.
Why You Should Only Compete Against Yourself
As difficult as it might be to not allow yourself to get consumed into the lives of others, try to make your best effort. The more you compete against yourself instead of competing against others, the happier you will be. Here are three reasons why.
1. You only get a look at the positives.
As I mentioned earlier, when we look into the lives of those around us, especially on social media, we are only getting a glimpse of their accomplishments. We aren’t seeing all of the hard work, all of the time, all of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the accomplishments of others. We are only seeing the outcome of all of these things.
This causes us to feel negatively towards ourselves. Because we are only comparing our beginning to the end of others’ accomplishments, we start to question our abilities and whether or not we will ever achieve as much as others.
2. There is always somebody who is better than you.
No matter what, there is always going to be somebody who is better than you in any given area of life. Even if you do temporarily claim the accolade of being the world’s best, just know that somebody, someday, will come along and take the title of being the best just as you had from somebody else.
Also, just because you are the best in one area doesn’t mean you are even good in other areas of life. So instead of risking falling into the depression that comes when somebody claims your title as the best, try to simply be the best that you can be. Not just in one area of life, but in all.
3. You are allowing others to determine your quality of life.
By competing against others, you are only allowing others to determine your quality of life. You are teaching yourself to live by the standards of others instead of creating the life that you want to live.
Also, when you compete against others instead of compete against yourself, you forget to appreciate all that you are as an individual and all of the things that you already have. Instead, you fall into the trap of focusing solely on the things that you lack.
Happiness and fulfillment don’t come from having everything in life. They come from recognizing and appreciating all that you already do have.
Choosing what we do and who we want to become requires reflection. It requires us to look deep from within, to acknowledge our weaknesses, and to focus on growing from the individual that we are into the individual that we want to become. We don’t need accolades of recognition of being the best, because deep down, we know that just by improving on who we were yesterday, we are the real winners. The point isn’t to not compete. It’s to compete against yourself and only yourself.
Compete against yourself and only focus on improving from the individual that you were yesterday. You aren’t ever going to be perfect, so forget about the idea of perfection and focus on the idea of progression instead. As you do this, life will start to unfold itself in ways you never thought imaginable.