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When Is It Okay To Compare Yourself To Others?

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Q: Throughout our life, in school, in the office, everywhere, we are constantly being compared with others around us. Why are such comparisons being made? Why are we not appreciated for who we are?

Sadhguru: There are certain areas of life where our whole learning process is only because of the many other things that have happened in the past. You can write ABC because someone else also wrote ABC before you. You would not have written ABC by yourself. What you can do today has not come out of you alone, or from any one individual. What you can do is the result of humanity's thousands of years of experience. Writing ABC is coming out of the experience of language of thousands of generations of people.

So many other things that you can do are also like this. They are a contribution from everyone who has lived before you. Invariably, comparison becomes a necessity because if there is no comparison, you might be doing something silly in your life and you would think you are doing great. Hasn't that happened to you often enough? You thought you were doing fantastic. Then someone came by doing things in such a way that you felt like an utter idiot. This comparison is needed. Otherwise everyone who is doing idiotic things will think he is a king by himself.

This comparison is perfectly okay, but this is not about you. This is only about your actions. In activity, all of us are differently capable. If we do not have benchmarks, we cannot improve our activity. Not everyone is driven by passion to do what they are doing, where they will anyway do their best. They need some benchmarks. There is nothing wrong with this. Otherwise, every day you will have to start from scratch and reinvent the wheel.

The Top of the Heap

Only if you have a problem in knowing that someone is doing better than you, then this comparison is a problem. That should never be an issue for you. I am always seeking someone who can do things better than me because then my life will become easy. I don't want to live with dumb people who cannot do things as well as me. If they can do things better than me, my life gets easier, better, and more beautiful. But if you are a horrible tyrant, you do not want anyone to do better than you. This is a silly way to exist. This foolishness has come into you because you are always trying to measure the person, "Am I bigger than him? Am I smaller than him?" because your whole effort is somehow to sit on top of the heap.

Anyone - whether parents or boss - goads you towards the top of the heap simply because they are not interested in doing things well; they are only interested in being number one. They are not interested that you might run a hundred meters in seven seconds; they are only interested that you must be one inch ahead of the rest of the pack.

This problem arises because people have a horrible sense of insecurity about themselves. Their whole life is invested in looking a little better than someone else. This is a wasteful life because most probably you will not succeed and you will definitely not explore the full potential of who you are. You will be miserable when you succeed and even when you don't, because constantly trying to stay ahead of someone is a miserable way to exist. The insecurity that someone may pull you down and exceed you is a horrible way to exist.

The most fundamental thing is to fix your way of experiencing life. If you are joyful by your own nature, whatever you do, you will not get into this unhealthy state of life within yourself. You will participate in any kind of competition, but you are already blissful so you will do the best you can. Even if you come last, it is still beautiful because you have done your best. You will know the joy of action only when you are blissful by your own nature. If you are doing action to squeeze happiness out of life around you, then once in a way, when there is a flash of success, you are elated, but when it does not happen you will be miserable.

We are trying to plunge into the process of life without setting up the fundamental foundation that is needed for one to live a healthy life. The first and foremost thing that a child came with is, the moment his stomach is full, he knows how to be joyful. Even an infant knows this. Only when he is hungry he yells, the rest of the time he is joyful. This is the fundamental fabric of life. Nature is clearly telling you this state of being joyful is necessary for you to live a healthy life. This has to be firmed up, established, and insured. You have to insure your joy first and then get into activity. Then it does not matter whether activity goes up and down, you will not go up and down.

Read more from Sadhguru at the Isha Blog: Isha.Sadhguru.org/blog/