{April 29, 2012}   No comparison


“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Do you believe this statement is true?

When I first read this quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, shared by Patron of the Arts on Facebook, I thought “Yes! I can see that!”

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has finished a project only to feel it falls short in comparison to what I had envisioned, to the photo I’d torn out of a magazine, to the work of art I had hoped to emulate.

Maybe you became disheartened after finishing a great novel because you felt you could never write even a chapter that’s as authentic and moving as the ones you just read.

Perhaps after several attempts at painting landscapes, you became frustrated when you couldn’t capture the light and shadow as well as an artist you admire.

Or maybe you became envious of a neighbor who had a greener lawn, a more colorful garden, a more inviting or organized home.

Comparing your efforts to another’s can lead to disappointment, frustration and envy. And those feelings will steal the joy you feel in writing, painting, gardening or any effort…if you let them.

But I’m not convinced comparison in itself is bad. Maybe your reaction to comparison is what counts.

Comparison can be motivating. It can spur you to improve. It can prompt you to make a needed change.

One of the reasons I decided to push myself outside my comfort zone this year is because I compared my life to the lives of those around me. From my perspective, their lives were much more interesting; they were traveling, exploring, doing.

In contrast, my everyday life had become routine. I was doing the same things, day in and day out. I wasn’t living life to the fullest. Was someone else to blame for my ho-hum life? Absolutely not! Comparing my life to others’ lives made me realize not only could I do more…but I wanted to do more.

Although I’m less than a month into my project to try 47 new things before my next birthday, I’m happy where the comparison has led me. I’m trying things I wouldn’t have considered a year ago. The activities I’m doing may not be the same ones you would put on your bucket list. But this is not your list.

I have friends in their 40s who can’t believe I’ve never rollerbladed and are not impressed I strapped on inline skates for the first time. Another friend felt the opposite; she said reading my blog makes her feel like her life is “dull.” (On second thought, maybe she said reading my blog was “dull”…I’ll have to double-check on that.) Others have rolled their eyes and told me they have no desire to operate a backhoe or questioned why I’d want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. That’s just fine.

For all those who don’t understand my project, there are just as many who say it resonates with them. One wrote: Your blog “is quite inspirational to a 47-year-old peer who is completely way too comfortable in her life as well.” Another emailed: “I was telling a dear friend about your 47 and fearless blog. You have inspired us to try and do 52 new things or accomplishments in honor of our 52 birthdays.”

Whether you get it or not, whether you’re inspired or not, that’s OK with me. I’m not doing these things to impress you. I don’t want to make you feel bad for being comfortable where you are. I’m not pushing you do things you don’t want to do. I’m not suggesting a project like mine is right for everyone.

My project is about me—trying new things and discovering what makes me happy. One friend wrote: “You reminded me that limericks make me happy, and I need to write one per day. I’m counting on all my friends to demand that I stick to my commitment.”

What makes you happy? Do it. Once a day. Once a week. Once a month. Just do it.


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