My family and I are in a little fishing village on the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia at the moment. We walked past a row of fig trees in between the ruins of forgotten stone houses and I couldn’t help but think that in Melbourne, the fruit of these trees would probably have a net worth greater than the current balance of my retirement fund. As I stood there admiring the fig trees I noticed a little granny who I assumed owned this bit of land. My first thought was, what a lucky lady, she gets to eat all these organic figs, she actually knows where they came from and who touched them and she’s not even paying $50kg for them. As I walked off I had another thought. Maybe the little granny was looking at me in my neat clothes and also thinking, lucky lady, she’s had an easy life, working in an office, a clean, non-strenuous job. By assuming so much about the village life and those fig trees, I was actually feeling like I had missed something, like something was lacking in my life because I didn’t own 10 gigantic fig trees. Up until that moment, I was unaware that I even wanted 10 fig trees. Had I forgotten how to simply admire something without wanting it for myself?
In the same village, I spotted a group of five unsupervised children led by a three year old on a battered balance bike. The children were talking amongst themselves and I could work out that they were planning an expedition in search of wild asparagus. I was there with my son and as I looked at him I realised that he was wearing three items specifically designed for safety even though he wasn’t going anywhere particularly dangerous. In fact, he was on a supervised expedition with his mother in search of a safe place to play with his soccer ball. I looked back at the group of children then at my son and sighed. I can give him so much but I cannot give him an unsupervised expedition into the forest in search of wild asparagus. The children in the village, looked over at my son. They could tell that he wasn’t a local. They probably thought that he had come from a better place than there’s because he had greater material worth, yet they were totally unaware of their own fortune. All the money in the world cannot buy you an unsupervised expedition into the forest with your friends, especially when you’re 3!
As long as we look out and see what they have and we don’t, we will never find true happiness, gratitude and joy. Without even realising, comparison by comparison we have filled our minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and in essence our whole lives with discontent and a deeper connection with lack and want instead of gratitude.
Oh Mr Roosevelt, you had no idea back then that joy would be replaced with an obsession for things, approval from others, likes, haters and followers. Joy went out of fashion a long time ago. Comparison and it’s close friend judgement are indeed the thieves of joy and life!
When we compare ourselves to others, our relationships to other relationships, our clothes, our homes, our bodies and everything else, we miss the whole point of knowing who we are, what we have and making the most of it. Sometimes it takes a new perspective to see the true value of things. We often think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. No, my son cannot go on an expedition into the woods with his friends and I don’t have access to 500kg of organic figs, but we have other things to be grateful for.
Don’t get me wrong, not all comparison is bad. If we can see, experience, compare and learn from each other without connecting to a feeling of lack then this is healthy and allows us to grow. But this kind of comparison can only reside in a person who is experiencing life authentically. A person who is at peace and in sync with themselves and the life they are creating. Seeing the group of children planning their expedition into the forest made me think that perhaps a helmet, elbow pads and knee pads was a bit too much for my son.
Dear Adult, JTLYK about comparing,
Dealing with comparison is hard when we are growing up and learning so many new things every day. We need to make lots of mistakes while we are young. We need to learn who we are, how we feel, what we like, what we dislike, what we are good at, what we need to improve, how to be happy and proud of who we are. We need to learn from young that everyone has a place in this world. Your time was different to now. This is a time of creating like never before. Every one of has something to give, to do, to be and experience. Stop worrying about us and stop fussing about all the little details of what you think we need. Love, nurture, support and believe in us so that we can learn to believe in ourselves.
Comparing us all the time to other children isn’t helpful. It places too much attention on good, bad, better, the best, the worst, the fastest, the slowest. Save your comparing for when you’re choosing your next car or internet provider. We are human and comparing us all the time hurts. What if the adults were being compared the same way as us. Imagine, every adult in the world had to bake a cake and then receive a grading for the cake. What if they were told that if they didn’t receive a high grade for the cake then they wouldn’t succeed in life? When you set a list of conditions as a way of measuring success, not everyone can be successful.
After all that measuring and comparing, you tell us to love and be proud of who we are. You tell us not to compare ourselves to others and yet that is all we know. Is it just another adult created, artificial platform of what you call life? As if we cannot see right through your well-intended words of wisdom and feel their lack of authenticity. Please give us more credit than that.
Imagine a world of happy, confident, flexible, life-long learners with an open heart and compassion for all living things. This is the future we want to create. So please, please, please, stop making us remember things so that we can complete tests for you to compare us. Teach us useful skills so that we can create!!!!
When I feel good, I do good. When I do good, I see good in others. (dearadult.com)