Comparison is the Thief of Joy!
Comparison is the Thief of Joy!
We’ve all done it. Lusted over someone else’s life. Assessed our worth based on how we compare to those we look up to and in some cases, loathe because of it.
During yoga teacher training, one of my teachers said “Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy. Besides, you don’t know that person’s story.” The instructor used this point to reference the exhausted excuse of not coming to a yoga class out of fear of looking stupid or inexperienced. However, when really stopping to consider these words, how silly does that seem?
For one, anyone that I know that practices frequently is STILL more worried about what they are doing on their own mat and so focused on trying not to fall over that they don’t have the bandwidth to look around to see who looks more dumb than them. Not to mention, yoga is never about the pose, it’s about the journey. That is where the magic happens. Which brings me to my second point...
If you see someone doing a fancy pose and think they are better than you because you haven’t learned or mastered that, consider these questions:
How long have they been practicing?
How many times did they fall out of the pose before it FINALLY worked for them?
Did they look like this last year? Maybe they were injured and were crying in the back in child’s pose (by the way...I’ve been there and have zero shame about it.)
After seriously considering these, how do you feel about their journey now?
Here is the magic of what my teacher actually meant: she wasn’t necessarily talking about yoga. She was talking about life.
How many times do you see a beautiful image of a person on social media and think “my life is NOT that glamorous!” How many times have you heard about someone buying their new vacation home and think they are excelling at life way more than you are when you can barely afford one home? What if we thought about people as flawed human beings instead of profiles and perceived worth? What if, instead of daydreaming and filling in the blanks of their seemingly glamorous life, we saw a human being choosing to share their glamorous moments and understand that everyone goes through lows at some point?
Someone can be in Greece sipping wine on a beautiful patio one day but maybe the next minute, they’ll be covered in their baby’s vomit. Perhaps you see a photo of that beaming mother holding her beautiful child and suddenly you feel a tinge of envy. However, maybe what that mother hasn’t expressed is how many miscarriages and failed IVF treatments her and her partner have suffered before finally conceiving and carrying full term. If someone is buying a vacation home, maybe they worked their ass off, pinched pennies and ate only Ramen Noodles for years to afford their dream. It’s possible that they have no business making the purchase and will be in serious debt within two months. If you knew more of their story, instead of jealousy you might feel compassion for or inspired by them. People judge what they don’t know; they are normally empathetic if they do.
Here is a personal example of where I need to take my own advice: when my husband started Red Cedar Landscapes last year, he hit the ground running. Yes, there were unexpected start up costs and there were certainly sleepless nights wondering how we were going to pay for things but for the most part, he had a profitable business with more than enough clients at a steady rate. Wandering Roots has been open since April of this year and for the most part, it has been hemorrhaging cash. For the majority of my adult life, I have been assessing my worth based on my salary. I could talk all day about why that is really fucking dumb but perhaps we can save that for another blog entirely.
For the sake of time, here is why I should not compare Wandering Roots to Red Cedar Landscapes. First, it’s like comparing apples to broccoli, they are in completely different industries. Second, my husband was in the landscaping industry for 13 years before he went off on his own. I completed yoga teacher training only 2 months prior to starting Wandering Roots and had been making travel itineraries and bookings for 7 years but only for my husband and I along with our families. Third, modern western culture tends to first place value on our image, home, car and miscellaneous material objects before investing in our physical and mental health. I know that whenever I only look at numbers, I’m depleting all of the joy that Wandering Roots has brought me so far. However, when I stop to think about about the blast I had on our August retreat, I feel excitement for Banff. I’ve met incredible people through teaching yoga and I’ve travelled to some bucket list places for research and for pleasure. I thrive when I’m challenged (and believe me, I’ve definitely been challenged) but am grateful for all of the valuable lessons that I’ve learned. I’ve been true to my commitment to live more authentically and without regrets by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and taking risks. So regardless of what the numbers say at the end of the year, I will have an abundance of things to be grateful for.
I’m also incredibly grateful that my husband reminds me of all of these obvious points when I’m feeling down, and I’m going to continue to do the work to find more self-love, trust and compassion. I’m worth it. We all are.
Is there anywhere in your life where you would greatly benefit from not comparing yourself to others?
My name is Anna VanAgtmael, and I am a certified yoga instructor with a passion for yoga, travel, and connecting with others.
I believe in trying everything once. My values lie in collecting memories over things. Though we desire adventure and authentic experiences, naturally our fear holds us back.
My ambition is to inspire and encourage you to unmask your fears and jump into the unknown.
Anna VanAgtmael | Yoga Enthusiast | Trip Planning Wizard