Theodore Roosevelt, an esteemed war hero and the youngest U.S. president in history, experienced a multitude of trials and triumphs throughout his life, but he always seemed to have a joyful attitude and view on life. He is famously quoted as saying, "Comparison is the thief of joy." It is a simple statement, but its message is universal and rings true even today.
But what is comparison? And is it always a thief? The dictionary definition of comparison is "the act or process of comparing such as an examination of two or more items to establish similarities and dissimilarities." Comparison can be a good thing. In a healthy way, it can help individuals to grow and improve on skills. It only becomes a thief when we believe lies and engage in negative thought patterns, imposing excessive judgment on ourselves and others.
After experiencing this myself, I have come to believe that comparison can be a silent thief. It is quick, stealthy, and can affect us most before we recognize or realize it. As a writer, I compare myself to skilled authors and other writers. On social media, it is easy to compare lives, the number of followers or friends, and Instagram feeds. Even daily, I witness college students comparing their appearance, majors, and academics in critical, self-deprecating ways.
The first step to stopping comparison is to catch it, and this can be hard. When I compare myself to others, I try to recognize when I begin to believe lies and give in to negative thoughts. If you do not catch it when it comes, the lies about yourself become bigger and the negative spiral digs deeper. When you notice yourself falling into the trap, try to avert your thoughts by halting the activity you are doing. Whether it's getting off social media for a little bit or moving on to something else, remove yourself from tempting situations.
Remember who you are and what makes you unique. Instead of believing the lies cycling through your head, replace them with truths. Instead of "I am not enough," choose to believe "I am enough, worthy, and loved." Make a list of strengths and positive traits that make up who you are. Think about some weaknesses, and instead of tearing yourself down, think of constructive ways to improve upon them.
Lastly, try to spread light and encourage others. Everyone has weaknesses and flaws. No one is perfect. The person you negatively compare yourself to most often is probably going through the same thing. Recognize people are people too. We are all human. Uplift one another and spread positive messages to those around you.
Never let negativity steal your joy,