Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yellow Snow: the story of the boy who did not know any beter

So you may wonder what the heck is up with the post title "yellow snow". We all know the old adage: "never eat yellow snow". But what about those who were left out of this conversation, those who actually ate yellow snow (or those who did what they were told not to). Well, hopefully, they have learned from their life experiences and as a result don't eat yellow snow anymore. I know the metaphor may be a little much but, my point is this: my whole life I have been advised not to compare myself, but I do.

We all compare things. At the grocery store: is this piece of fruit better than that piece?. At home: is this television better than that television? In our lives: is my income better than his/her income?

For simple things, like purchasing groceries or consumer goods, this method of comparison for selecting the "best" works fine. But what about when this selection method insidiously creeps into our daily lives; is it still of any use? From my own experiences in dealing comparing myself to others, it has never benefited me (not in one instance). However, as people, we always fall into this trap. Perhaps it is our nature as humans or maybe a product of culture (a culture built on sorting the worst from the best), but one thing is for sure: it does not help me--ever. Therefore, I propose the question: (1)If it is in our nature, can we learn to circumvent (or at least turn the volume down) this hard-wired need to compare, and (2) if it is a social product, can we choose not to compare ourselves?

The area I am guiltiest of comparison is my career. In the media, I am bombarded with a barrage of messages which I internalize as beliefs and ideas of success. I then benchmark myself against these external expectations, which make me feel inadequate. We all see the world through a different lense. We filter and benchmark ourselves against those individuals which reflect what we want to be (or think we want to be). We seek external feedback and information, in order to create benchmarks (however artificial they are), which inhibits us and boxes us in. We begin to think strictly within the auspices of one paradigm and when we do not meet the artificial benchmarks of success we have created (consciously or unconsciously) we become unhappy and dissatisfied.

If comparing ourselves, makes us miserable then why do we do it. I won't pretend I have the answer (may be the psychologists do). For me, I do because I always have. In my experience, this is not a good reason to do anything. As such, my future success is based on the tenet "do not compare yourself to others".