Comparison game

Comparisons, it is said, are odious, but how many of us remember this in day-to-day living? When we see somebody leading a trouble-free life, we wonder why luck has not favoured us. On the other hand, seeing somebody struggle with problems may make us feel how much better off we ourselves are. Rich or poor, famous or unknown, all of us slip every now and again into playing the comparison game. Most ofmus emerge as losers rather than winners, but that hardly deters us from indulging in it every so often. Why is this so? The urge to make comparisons is as strong as it is hard to resist.

It springs from the fact that we live in a competitive world. In school, it is matter of ranks; at work, it is a question of promotions and when it comes to power, it is an issue of prestige. Under such circumstances, it is inevitable to be caught in a mental tug-of-war with those around us.

Fortunately, with a little understanding and effort, this unending play of one-upmanship can be converted into a win-win situation. In other words, we can choose to be either winners or losers.

The losers fall into varied categories. There are those who are perpetually discontented. The word ‘if’ has a large part to play in all that they think and do.

They believe that happiness will be theirs if they get the right job, have the right house or are granted the right advantages. They are driven by a constant desire to be someone else or to reach somewhere much further ahead. Life to them is a cup that is always half-empty, never half-full.

They are miserable because they are incapable of being happy. Then come those who envy their equals because they seem better off than they themselves are.
Paralysed by their own attitude, they fail to move forward. Others feel driven to compete with and surpass othersi n order to gain approval. They live their lives on a see-saw of success and failure, little realizing how self-defeating and exhausting this can be.

The winners, on the other hand, possess a commonalty of outlook. The comparisons that they make arise from a desire to learn from others and not a perceived lack in their own selves.

They acknowledge their superiors and try to better themselves. They are well aware that there will always be someone smarter, stronger, more attractive, more intelligent or wiser than they are.

However this will stir no emotions of envy, unrest or despair in their hearts.

They are able to perceive their talents and build upon them to the best of their ability. Above all, they value the truth contained in the wise words, ‘There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. True nobility lies in being superior to your own previous self.’

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