Strategies For Winning The Competition Of Comparison
The competition of comparison is a silent contest. An internal mind game. Mostly kept to yourself as you seek significance. Search for meaning. And wonder how you rate on the grand scale of life.
And every day while navigating among the masses. Riding the up and down roller coaster of ordinary existence. You, me and all of us…compare ourselves to others. The list includes our…
- Level of income
- Material possessions
- Social Status
- And…you get the point right?
Sometimes we win. Other times lose. The first case fosters pride, the second jealousy. Neither are healthy or productive. And when left unchecked to where it becomes consuming, comparison is a competition that takes you captive.
And that’s sad.
Because the reality is that whatever on the list you’re comparing against others, there will always be someone with more and someone with less than you. So you’ll never completely win.
You know this. I know this. But we can’t stop ourselves. And while complete freedom from comparison might be impossible, here are some winning strategies to minimize its grip.
WIN THE COMPETITION OF COMPARISON BY RECOGNIZING ITS UNIVERSAL NATURE
You’re not alone in the comparison competition game. We all play. And there’s lots of psycho babble explaining why.
But the bottom line?
We all want to matter and compare ourselves against others to see how we stack up. It’s just what we do.
You can trace it back to the first family. The literal first family—after Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden. In this scene, Cain and Abel, their two sons, take offerings to the Lord. God looks favorably on Abel but not on Cain.
In other words, Cain doesn’t compare well next to Abel. Cain’s killer response is pretty drastic and not one I recommend, but comparison has marked the human experience ever since.
And knowing this is the first step to minimizing its affect on your life.
WIN THE COMPETITION OF COMPARISON BY CELEBRATING GOD’S GIFTS
We all have gifts God from God. They are distributed differently and that’s intentional. By acknowledging and accepting this, I can celebrate the ones God gave you and you can celebrate the ones He gave me.
It also reduces pride since I can’t take credit for my gifts. And jealousy too, since I know you can’t take credit for your gifts either.
Sure, we work hard to develop skills and abilities. Hone physiques and athleticism through grueling workouts. Study and write boo-coos of papers into the wee morning hours on the path to a degree and employ innovation to earn high incomes.
But the raw ingredients from which all that flows are gifts from God. No one can take credit for them. They are purposefully assigned for you and me to use for the kingdom and glory of God.
And when we do, that’s when we will most sense the meaning and significance we desire.
WIN THE COMPETITION OF COMPARISON THROUGH CONTENTMENT
Why is finding contentment so illusive?
Well for one, we mistakenly believe contentment is the natural result of having enough. And it isn’t.
Our natural, sinful disposition is to always want more. We may feel guilty about this, but it doesn’t make the desire go away.
And two, as the Apostle Paul points out, you don’t FIND or ACHIEVE contentment. You LEARN it. It begins with the recognition and acceptance that who we are and what we have is according to God’s providence.
This learning takes place over time as you lean gratefully on God through both scarcity and plenty. By accepting God’s Sovereignty and trusting His goodness and care in the midst of both. And recognizing along the way that joy, satisfaction and even dissatisfaction are present in both.
WIN THE COMPETITION OF COMPARISON THROUGH TWO SIMPLE PRACTICES
Wish I could say I’ve arrived at a state of complete fulfillment and totally quit the comparison competition.
But totally not true.
I have, however, learned a couple of practices that reduce its affect.
Compare down rather than up
One day I was driving down the street of my neighborhood noticing cars parked in driveways. Elite foreign models, plush SUV’s, luxury sedans. I began complaining to myself about the 15-year old, slightly rusted, compact car I was driving. Didn’t I deserve a nice car too?
However, when I pulled onto a main road, I passed a city metro bus stop where a group of people waited in a drizzling rain. And I felt a shoulder tap and quiet voice say, “Those people don’t have cars.”
I suddenly realized I was comparing up against people that had more than me. But when I compared down, there were many people that had less.
It was a good lesson and positive step towards contentment.
So now when I begin to compare up, I switch to comparing down. The change of perspective works wonders on changing my attitude.
Express gratitude for what you have
When dis-satisfied with what you don’t have, express gratitude for what you do have. Again, flip the perspective. A heart of gratitude and appreciation for your blessings goes a long ways toward improving your attitude and sense of contentment.
Winning the competition of comparison is not winning in the sense that you stack up well against others. It’s winning in the sense of accepting who you are and learning to be content with what you have.