The joy thief
Written by: Khadeja
Life has a lot of ups and downs, and while most of them are out of our control, we do possess the power to harness–or unleash–certain behaviors that directly impact our happiness. One of them is comparison.
To use the tool of comparison, one must have high levels of skill–superpowers, really. When you compare your life to someone else’s, you are using the power of assumption. You assume that you know enough about that person to confidently claim that your life pales in comparison. But in reality, we can only scratch the surface when it comes to understanding the struggles of others. We also tend to compartmentalize, focusing on a single aspect of a person’s life. For example, I always feel a bit sad when I attend weddings and I see the bride with her mother, because I never had that experience. Sometimes, that feeling just passes and goes on its way, but other times it gets fed by negative thoughts and then I somehow convince myself that the bride I am looking at has the perfect existence while I have a hard time seeing all of the blessings that I have in my life.
Another ‘superpower’ is the ability to tell the future; to just know for a fact how things are going to unfold. Sometimes, this power can be used for good when you are thinking positively about your own future and you know for certain that good things are meant for you because of your strong faith. But I’ve misused this power many times over by thinking that someone had it easier than I did, whether in terms of their career trajectory, relationships, and/or living situation. It is as if I positively predict their future whilst downplaying my own.
The principle of yin-yang states that there is good in every evil and evil in every good. This is how I feel about the superpowers that we all possess. Rather than trying to get rid of them, one just has to learn how to use them for good. And I don’t necessarily mean ‘for the good of all mankind’ because most of the time it is your own self that needs to be shown kindness and compassion before attempting to change the world for the better.
Life has a way of balancing out. While I didn’t get the chance to have my mother by my side during one of the biggest days of my life, she was there for other milestones that preceded that one. And while she won’t be here to see me grow my family, I have a lot of her inside of me that I am able to reference in times of confusion and misdirection. Sure, most people around me seem to have it easier than I do, but I know that is just my mind playing tricks on me. If I look closely and get out of my own head, I can clearly see that everyone is dealing with their own set of struggles.
They say to only compare yourself to those that have less than you. But I believe that as multifaceted beings we all have less and more in different aspects of our life–so what, then, is the point in trying to compare at all? I say let’s restrict comparisons to material things. Compare job offers, flight options and mobile phones. Let’s leave the humans out of this one as we are each on a separate journey through life.