Quit Comparing, Find Your Joy
If you want to live a life that is truly oriented around joy, you HAVE TO quit comparing yourself to anyone or anything else. Comparison SELLS! And it destroys.
Measuring our worth, value and attractiveness against other people is one of the most constant offers we encounter in our modern, daily lives (for women especially but for men too). Just drive down the interstate and look at nearly any billboard or glance at the magazine rack in the supermarket check out line. Everywhere we look we see the offer, “if you only looked like this, had this amount of money… then you’d be happy.”
Pardon the language but that is absolute BS! So long as we continue to compare ourselves, our happiness, joy and satisfaction will be completely dependent upon how we measure up to the people, places and experiences we encounter. In simpler terms, when we base our worth on how we stack-up, our well-being is constantly at risk. We are at risk at the gym, at the grocery store, any time we meet a new person, every time we get dressed in the morning…comparison means we are at risk everywhere and in everything we do. Not only are we constantly at risk, when we compare we also allow ourselves to be held captive to whatever whim is fashionable for the moment. Best-case scenario we feel good about our selves for a short time until the next thing comes along that we have to achieve/buy/look like to be “ok.” Worst-case scenario we end up in a spiral of self-loathing, striving and hopelessness. Sound familiar? YIKES!
Somehow, in the fitness community, comparison often gets a free pass because it gets renamed as motivation; “work hard enough, eat healthy enough and eventually you’ll look like this.” The thing that I’ve found over years of working with people, however, is that comparison usually isn’t strong enough motivation to keep people going towards their goals long term. It can be enough to keep people going for a while, but over time it falls apart because most people can never achieve fitness model look on the magazine cover. When the comparison motivator collapses, one of two things typically happen. Either, people fall into eating disorders because if they can’t achieve the look that will give them self-worth the healthy way (eating well and working out) they will achieve that worth by any means possible. Or, people just give up. If they aren’t going to get to where they want to (fitness model status) it’s not worth the effort. The problem in both cases is comparison! Whether in work or fitness or parent-hood or life, when we base our worth on how we measure up, we are actively destroying our own health, our own hearts and our own worth.
On the flip side, the best motivation I’ve found is JOY! JOY will move you! Think about something that you absolutely love to do! You’ll jump at any opportunity to go do whatever that thing is, right? Why? Because it makes you smile, laugh and feel free! What if, if your workouts incited that same, overwhelming feeling of excitement and joy?
It’s possible! No more going to the gym to keep-up with the fitness models! Start moving your body in ways you LOVE! Move for joy instead of working to move-up in the comparison rankings!!! Get creative with your “workouts.” Learn to paddle board, walk the dog, take a hike in a new place, find a bagel shop that's 20-miles away and bike there. Move your body for joy on a regular basis and your body will change. It really will! Those fitness goals you’ve been motivating yourself towards with comparison will actually start happening. Except that when you move for joy, you’ll not only start to change your body but you will also start feeling the chains of comparison fall off one-by-one until you really are free and joyful!
You matter, you are beautiful, you have worth beyond measure just because you are you! Your worth is only up for grabs if you give it away. So stop giving your worth away to the monster of comparison and start living as your true self, moved by joy instead!
Challenge for the week: try moving for joy in two different ways over the next seven days. If you like to journal, write down how you feel when you move for joy. Try to notice your thoughts throughout the day as well. When you sense yourself starting to compare, stop and change direction. For example, if you’re being negative about yourself, stop and think of three things you really like about yourself. If you find yourself putting someone else down, just stop. This week, move for joy, notice when you compare and start taking steps towards freedom and real worth. It’s going to be a good week friends!