"Comparison is the thief of joy," President Theodore Roosevelt is
If you want to see this in action, head on over to
Even if you get inspired to get what someone else has, you're still considering yourself as less right now. That can't be good for you.
In fact, from a
Social comparison pervades our interactions with others, informing us of our standing and motivating improvement, but producing negative emotional and behavioral consequences that can harm relationships and lead to poor health outcomes.
Social comparison motivates improvement, but harms relationships and leads to poor health outcomes.
Now, consider that most of us are always part of a socially organized hierarchy. We're a box on an organizational chart, probably with some people above us, maybe with some people below us. In the military, the rank hierarchy is even clearer.
It's the same in the wild — many animals form hierarchical social structures — but since we're interested in better humanhood, let's skip the animal bit.
Swencionis and Fiske write:
[C]onstant social comparisons can be dangerous. Judging ourselves relative to others high in social status has known consequences, especially for members of stigmatized groups, who endure social stress as a result of hierarchies. Social stress involved in cross-status and cross-race interactions engenders a physiological threat response, hindering performance on tasks in the short term and gradually amassing negative health effects through emotional and physiological processes in the long term.
Comparing yourself to others can hurt the way you do your job and interact with your family in the short term, and get you sick and possibly depressed in the long term.
Are you starting to be a little happier where you are?
Consider this: jealousy (the "that person has what I want" comparison)
Do people post their highlights to make us feel bad, then?
Probably not. Pride in one's accomplishments triggers a
But is comparison always bad? I'm going to say no.
Two instances come to mind. One is objective comparison. If you're honestly not sure where you are in life, you might discover you're better off than you thought you were by comparing yourself to others. HOWEVER, this comes with the caveat that it's a good check-in and nothing more. When you find off you're better off than you thought you were, it's a good time to be grateful. It's not a good time to relax or to think of those not doing as well as less than you.
The other instance is physical feats.
In the 1980s, skateboarders were on the hunt for a 540-degree rotation. In 2012, a 12-year-old
People just needed to see it accomplished to compare their methods and match (or exceed) accomplishments. It's something Steven Kotler writes about in
So, to compare or not to compare? You do so at your own risk.