Comparing: the Key to Unhappiness

Sunday, July 31, 2016
My favorite unhappy face (in case you needed a visual)
Picture it: Third grade in a small Midwestern town. A little girl with glasses reaches her hand out to accept her spelling test. She is incredibly proud when she notices the 100% at the top of the page. Next to the grade is a smiley face sticker. She can’t wait to bring it home to show her parents. She leans over to tell her friend the good news. Before she can express her excitement, her friend shows her the 101% on her own paper. The first little girls smile fades and by the time she shows her test to her parents, her enthusiasm has faded away and she simply places the paper in the pile on the table.

Did the 101% grade of her classmate really change her 100% to something substandard? Of course not! The second student had somehow managed to do some extra credit. The 101% had absolutely nothing to do with the first girl’s grade. I suggest that the comparison is the root of the problem in this scenario. There are many pieces to the puzzle of unhappiness, but the key element is comparing. If you start comparing yourself with others, your joy will be stolen and all that remains is unhappiness and discontent.

Your weekend away at the local campground was exactly what you needed to feel rejuvenated and refreshed. That was until your co-worker told you about her upcoming cruise in the Bahamas. Her brochure showing bikini clad supermodels walking on white sandy beaches has you feeling like a pauper with your flip flops your hammock and the bonfire before bed. The 500 words you managed to write over the weekend felt like quite the accomplishment until your BFF posted to social media that she’s got 2,000 words per day under her belt.

There will always be someone faster, smarter, richer, more organized, thinner, taller, more successful, etc… The key is to compare less and enjoy more. If we go back to our original example, the little girl with the 100% should just take her test home and tell her parents the amazing news about her fabulous test score.

How do you stop yourself from comparing? Do you have an example of a time when comparing stole your joy and happiness? Please leave your comments and ideas here – we love to hear from readers and we can all learn from one another!

Hopefully just reading this article will help you the next time you want to compare yourself to someone else. Maybe you’ll stop and just bask in the happiness of the amazingness that is you!

Crystal is a church musician, babywearing mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 2, and Delphine 1), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff at: and


Sioux Roslawski said...

Crystal--Some of the women in my writing critique group are very prolific. They write a lot, submit a lot, and have been published a lot. I used to get upset with myself. Why wasn't I up every morning at 5 writing? (I was up then, but usually not writing.) Why wasn't I taking advantage of every publishing opportunity and at least submitting? Why was I allowing submission call-outs to just pass by, with no submission from me?

I then realized I enjoyed writing, and when I beat myself up about it, I was NOT enjoying it. I also figured I should only be competing with myself. If I submitted 20 pieces last year, I should try to exceed that submission number this year.

This post, Crystal, is a good reminder of the mindset we should have. Thanks.

Margo Dill said...

As soon as I read the TITLE of your blog post, I said to myself: OH YES. This is the very reason I had to take Pinterest off my phone and sometimes have to take a break from other writers. I am terrible about comparing myself to others, but I know it is not helpful to me as a person, a mom, a friend, a writer. . .thanks for reminding us!

Crystal Otto said...

So glad you could relate. For the most part, I love my life...but there are moments when I can't help but feel like I wish my house was as big as _____, my writing was as eloquent as_____, etc...

Social media may be making this worse for many of us.

It's a great reminder for me too!!


Crystal Otto said...

Oh yes!!

Type Pinterest fails in your google search - you'll feel WAY better!!!!


Theresa Boedeker said...

Great article and reminder. Life has taught me many times that comparison steals my joy and no one wins in comparison. One strategy I use is to try and celebrate their success. But also appreciate and enjoy my own success, which will look different that theirs.

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top