Theodore Roosevelt famously said; “Comparison is the thief of joy”
What is interesting about this quote is that it came from an American president at the turn of the 20th century but is even more relevant today.
First, let’s go back, way back.
We are social creatures. Just like our ancestors, we group together into little tribes. This happens naturally, it is in our DNA.
Observed in the wild, monkeys can band together into groups of about 150 strong without too many problems. According to social scientists, 150 is about the number of people you can maintain familiar relationships with.
Some people may have slightly better memories, some worse, but 150 is around the sweet spot.
This is why the size of an army company is around 150. It is the perfect size for trust to be built between it’s members.
From around the time we split off from our closest ancestors the chimpanzees, somewhere around 7 - 15 million years ago (sorry young earth creationists) to about twelve thousand years ago, tribes of around 150 members were the norm for our species.
Around twelve thousand years ago, agriculture was discovered. (Previously we all were hunter gatherers, every persons job every day was to find food, fuck and sleep.) This was probably the most important discovery of our species.
This led to the ability to stockpile resources. All of a sudden, we didn’t all have to forage for food every day. People could grow their own food, and could actually produce more than they needed.
This meant other people could take roles in society that didn’t involve the production of food, and civilisation was born.
All of a sudden, humans had a reason to live in larger and larger communities.
This Neolithic revolution changed the world, and there have been many more revolutions since.
Most recently we have progressed into the digital revolution and have entered the Information Age.
In a period of the last two hundred years, the worlds population has gone from one billion to over seven billion and in the last 50 years, the internet has brought us all much closer together. At this point you might be asking yourself, “Why the history lesson Matt?” Well let me tell you why. Because we didn’t evolve over millions of years with the required mental capabilities to be in a community of seven billion people. This is all new to us. Really fucken new.
The problem is in comparison. When you are in a group of 150 people, you might compare yourself to the prettiest girl in the village with a twinge of envy.
When you have unrestricted access to the hottest people on the planet on demand through social media, it’s downright fucken depressing.
And it’s not just looks.
I don’t care how fucking good you are at what you do, chances are, I can find somebody doing what you do better online somewhere. (Try me)
And this comparison is dangerous for us because what comes with comparison is jealousy, unless you have the right mindset.
Whether you are comparing your bank account, the size of your ass or your ability to solve three rubiks cubes while juggling (Google it, some freaky Chinese kid does it) Comparison often creates competition.
Competiton leads to a win vs lose mentality, someone being better and someone being worse, which is not very good for our fragile egos.
When you are comparing yourself to some insta famous chick who rocks a 6 pack year round, eats burgers and and lives off of daddy’s spendings account (This may be her actual daddy or her sugar daddy) you are comparing yourself to someone who you probably won’t ever overtake.
Now I’m not one to shoot down anyone, if you want to train your ass off, look amazing and find a sugar daddy, I’m not going to tell you that it can’t be done. The world is your fucken oyster, go for it.
But understand that some people just get a better roll of the dice.
Some people just have advantages. They are born with them, money, genetics, looks.
When you compare yourself against the hottest person on the planet, it’s pretty easy to get fucken insecure about how your left side looks in photos compared to your right side.
Also, most of the shit you are comparing yourself to isn’t even fucking real! The women in magazines are photoshopped, Who can forget this photo of Justin Bieber representing Calvin Klien in this shoot. They even made his dick bulge bigger.
See the danger comes in comparing yourself against something unrealistic.
If you live in jealousy of the kardashians, I can guarantee with nearly unbreakable confidence that you probably aren’t going to amass the wealth they have, for doing seemingly fucken nothing like they do in your lifetime. You have created a no win situation for yourself, this is very unhealthy.
Another thing to note here is that you usually social media is just a portfolio of peoples ‘best of’ moments. (Unless you follow me, might be called 'worst of' 😂)
I heard a quote the other day, that sort of sums this up beautifully.
“Pregnancy is like success.. Everyone congratulates you but nobody knows how many times you’ve been fucked.”
Everyone looks happy on social media. Because most people only advertise the good shit. You don’t see their struggles, just their success. So when you campare yourself against them, your own struggles are magnified.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that comparison is a bad thing. I compare myself to my father, who is one of the hardest working men that I know, and through that comparison I get the drive to be better. My mother is inherently curious about things, another trait that I not only inherited but probably added to.
In fact, your parents are some of the earliest and most important role models that you have, but you will have role models in different shapes and forms all throughout your life. From friends to colleagues to coaches to mentors.
Competition can be healthy when you maintain the right perspective, and you are picky in whom you compare yourself to.
Understand too that humans are all different and adaptable. It’s what makes us successful as a species.
It is in our diversity that our greatness can be truly appreciated.
So instead of focusing on someone who is better than you at something in particular that you can’t beat, focus on what it is that you do that makes you different.
Focus on it and celebrate it.
People ask me why I dress in outrageous costumes and do outrageous things.
I do it because I like it. It brings me joy and it seems to bring others joy.
And before you think I do it for likes, I did shit like this long before I had any social media.
I believe one of the secrets to happiness is being comfortable in yourself.
One of my mantras that I say to my fitness and business clients is “You can keep everyone happy or you can keep yourself happy, you can’t do both”
What I mean here is you will never ever be able to have everyone like you, no matter what you do.
Harry Potter and the philosophers stone is one of the most successful books of all time. But it has a shit load of one star reviews. Let that sink in.
When I started not caring about keeping everyone else happy, I started to be content with myself.
In celebrating my own individuality, i’ve been able to focus and highlight my individual strengths. What I think inevitably comes with this is not only happiness, but success in your undertakings as well.
5 years ago, the thought of me doing graphic design, video editing, going live on facebook, public speaking and writing a blog would have been incomprehensible to me. Now I do all of those things daily, and I believe it’s only when you get happy that your creativity can be unlocked.
So to sum things up, I want you to stop comparing yourself to people that you will will never overtake. Use social media to be entertained and inspired, not become jealous and insecure.
I want to share with you the vision that I have for my company and myself, it’s written on my mirror, I read it every day and everything I do in a roundabout way points towards this vision.
“My vision is to help people achieve their best possible selves, through inspiration and coaching and by pushing their barriers through exercise activities, often through OCR. I will be known worldwide as a source of motivation and will change the world for the better.”
So what I do on social media is designed to entertain and inspire. And I hope that is what I achieve. It isn’t for likes, it’s a celebration of what makes me unique and the medium I use to help others improve. (Still like my shit though, just saying)
So what I wan’t you to do, is let me know what makes you different. Let me know what you celebrate about your own individuality. And if you can’t think of anything, I want you to think hard about it until you can.