Thursday, December 5, 2013

Comparison is Not the Thief of Joy

You've seen it all over women's blogs and Pinterest:  "Comparison is the thief of joy." Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, this quotation seems to speak to women in the age of social media. Unless reports are greatly exaggerated, women around the world are sitting in front of their electronic devices feeling bad about themselves.

If what we read is true, these women compare themselves to others and find themselves lacking. Their kids' parties are not clever enough, their vacations are not exciting enough, and their crafts are not crafty enough. They share "comparison is the thief of joy" to remind each other that they are worthy as they are.

Comparison is not the thief of joy - Flotsam of the Mind

I think this is nonsense. I know I'm plenty worthy just as I am, but I still seek to improve myself. Comparison provides goals. I don't aspire to be better than anyone else, but I do aspire to be a better me.

I have taken a photography class with people who awed and intimidated me, and I have taken one with people who failed to impress me. I didn't particularly enjoy the latter. I liked being inspired each week. I enjoyed admiring and aspiring to others' talent. I learned from it.

In my group personal training sessions, I prefer to exercise with people who are at my skill level or above. I don't want to feel better than others; I want others to challenge me as I challenge myself. If they are younger or thinner, I don't feel bad about my wrinkles or my mid-section. I work harder to show that this older, thicker lady can still do the work.

My life is not a competition to be the fittest, prettiest girl with the fanciest house with the most amazing decor where I throw the best parties with the most fantastic food. It is a journey of self-improvement. Healthy comparison provides incentive. It gives me something to aspire to. It makes me better.

Informal survey time. What about you? Does "comparison is the thief of joy" speak to you?


  1. I like this quotation because it reminds me to let go of perfectionism which is not at all the same thing as self-improvement. Perfectionism is about trying to earn approval and acceptance. It is not about striving to be your best self -- that's self-improvement. So "comparing" yourself to someone who is a better photographer can challenge one to take better photographs, but comparing yourself and finding yourself flawing and not perfect enough so you shouldn't even bother to try is dysfunctional and it's perfectionism, and unfortunately it is something that I struggle with. Just my two cents. We are all unique people -- that's why I like to remind myself to live my own live in the best way I can -- and not judge it against that of others.

    1. Thank you for commenting and explaining why the quotation appeals to you. It's good to hear from someone with a differing opinion, especially one who articulates her reasoning.