One thing that can affect our well-being to a great extent is the comparison with others. It’s like we need someone else to relate to in order to know if we should be happy or dissatisfied. Is it a human trait to compare and compete perhaps?
Compare and compete
Maybe this need to compare and compete comes from learning early in life that it is important to perform, and perform well. If we haven’t realized it before we start school or join a sports club, it usually gets obvious then. We are compared to others and learn that it is a good thing to be good at something. But at the same time it’s also good not to stand out too much. That experience may lead us to believe that happiness is connected both to success and high performance and to fitting in. Focus on comparing and competing might also create a behaviour of looking sideways to see how and what others are doing. Instead of listening to our own feelings and from there figure out what we feel good about or think is important.
Is it bad to compare and compete?
I think most things in life can be both good and bad. This also applies when it comes to comparing and competing. When we compete to win over someone else, it can bring some satisfaction. It can make you feel good if you can state that you are a little “better” than someone else. But a positive feeling that depends on someone else losing the competition is a bit treacherous. It means that you cannot get that good feeling on your own.
If you know that you often feel worse after making a comparison with others, it is a good idea to reflect on it a little bit. Is it really necessary to state who is better and who is less good? Who sets the rules for that?
Competition and comparison that inspires
In connection with major sporting events there is often a fuzz about the pressure to win and perform well. Some competitors obviously don’t feel food at all. But there ar also those who seem to enjoy competing. Who does not immediately start to talk about pressure and stress. Who compete because they like it. What is their driving force?
Maybe some of this:
- A desire to evolve and get better at something because they think it’s fun to get better.
- The comparison with others sparks a desire to be just as good. It inspires and encourages in a way that feels positive. They don’t get negatively affected when others perform better.
- They only focus on themselves and are genuinely curious about how good they can become.
In the same way that competition can feel positive, comparisons can also inspire. It might open your eyes to a new way of doing things that you didn’t know of.
But an important piece of the puzzle in order for competition and comparisons to be a good thing is that you don’t confuse your value as a person with the result of the comparison.
One question you can ask yourself is: does my energy go up or down when I compare myself and compete? Because what is absolutely most important for you to feel good (or better) is that you listen to yourself and make sure to take care of your energy.
What raises your energy?