My two year old daughter loves to eat. She’s the skinniest thing you ever saw (we don’t actually know where all the food goes), but boy that girl can put it down. She especially likes to eat what you’re eating. Yesterday, she stopped eating a cookie and switched over to asparagus (yes, asparagus) because I had begun eating it. I think her food envy comes from the fact that she’s constantly looking at what everyone else is eating, comparing it to what she has, and assuming whatever the other guy has must be better than what she’s got.
But kids aren’t the only ones guilty of looking around and comparing themselves to others. We grown-ups do it too, sometimes. Who do you know that’s richer than you? Who’s in better shape, in better health? Who has a better job, a happier family? Although seeing something that someone else has – like a good marriage or a successful career can sometimes be a positive way to motivate yourself to achieve more, these types of comparisons are often self-destructive because there are certain things in life that you will never get to be or have no matter how hard you try or no matter how much you want them.
There is one person in this world who you should be comparing yourself to, though. You. The you of yesterday, that is. Was there a time in the past that you were a better friend than you are now? Did you used to be more romantic with your spouse years ago? Was there a point in your life that you were more focused on self-discovery, self-improvement and growth, but sort of fell out of it since then? Any achievement you’ve made in the past is surely something that you can recreate in the present and build upon in the future.
There’s a Jewish idea that at the end of your life, you won’t be asked why you weren’t as good as the guy next to you – you’ll only be held accountable for not living up to yourself and all the the things that you could have achieved with the potential that you were given. Sitting around and competing with the people around us is essentially a waste of time. What we actually need to do is get out there and try our best to best ourselves.