Different people have different values, priorities and goals. But for some reason, we still tend to compare ourselves based on the same criteria, don’t we? And isn’t that insane?
Let me give you a personal example to explain what I mean. We all know that our culture usually values money, influence, popularity, luxury and so on. Our societies value things that show “you have made it” – but in a materialistic, superficial and cheap way.
I don’t really identify myself with those values. I care more about doing the right thing, educating myself, leaving a meaningful live and having a positive impact. As you can see, my values often don’t overlap with those of the world. Yes, I still work for money because I need it, but that is not my #1 goal. I don’t measure my self-worth based on my number of followers or money in my bank account – even though our society does.
Here’s an example of the difference between what the world values and what I value.
|What the World Values||What I value|
|Clothing and jewelry||Books|
|Being cool||Being educated and self-aware|
|Instagram followers||Sharing ideas, promoting education|
But here’s the strange part: even if I am totally aware that I have a different set of values, I am still affected by those of the world. I still end up comparing myself to others in terms of achievements, success, money, status, appearances and more. It’s like my brain has this instinct of always measuring people up and seeing who is better. And sadly, this is such a challenging task that my brain always takes shortcuts – which just render this comparison useless and stressful for me.
Think about it. When you browse Instagram or you are surrounded by a group of people, comparisons are usually superficial and flawed. Why? This happens because:
It’s easier to see who is travelling than who wants to do the right thing
It’s easier to find out who has money than who is high in self-awareness
It’s easier to see who is funny than who is educated
It’s easier to assess who has many followers on Instagram than who is respected and appreciated for who they are
It’s easier to see who has the coolest car than who is more responsible and environmentally-friendly
It’s easier to see who is loud than who is wise
It’s easier to hear what is being said and impossible to see what is left unsaid or hidden
And this made me realize that comparisons with other people are often useless. All we see is a small part of who people are and what their lives are like. So any comparison will surely be flawed.
But such comparisons are even more useless when you don’t even share the same values as others.
So what if someone has thousands of followers on social media if you care more about having a positive impact and encouraging people to educate themselves?
So what if someone has more money if you care more about doing something meaningful with your life?
So what if someone seems to be “winning at life” when you wouldn’t want to live the life they do?
If you have higher values and want to live a unique life, why bother to compare yourself with the people who have different values and different paths in life?
*I want to add that the different between these values is not always as clear as I made it seem. For example, I also appreciate status, money and travelling. But all these are of lesser importance to me than all the other things I value more.
**We are different people and have different values – and that’s normal.