Comparison is the Thief of Joy

This is a quote that often comes up in a Facebook group that I have joined for runners. It is one that I try to keep in mind as this same Facebook page bombards me with tales of successes and tales of woe regarding everyone’s progress as we attempt to conquer 2020 miles in 2020.

It is hard not to compare yourself to others. We use it as a gauging post to see where and how we measure up. The question is, whose standards are we measuring ourselves up to?

Today I hit my first milestone of the year for this particular challenge when I reached the 100 mile mark. In this particular running group though, there is a man who has made it a personal goal to run 26 marathons each day for the first 26 days of this new year. Needless to say he reached that 100 mile mark on day 4. Between him and me there have been countless other people who have shared and celebrated their first 100 milestone and some even the second (200 mile) milestone. With each post, I couldn’t help but to compare myself to those others and mentally took note of their age and physique to help me dismiss or validate whatever comparisons I was doing in my head. What it all led to was that I couldn’t help but to feel the tug to get there quicker myself all of this week.

If we use comparisons to help motivate and inspire ourselves to reach a little higher and do a little better, then where is the harm? We can learn and gain ideas from others that think and do differently than what comes natural to us. Where is the harm in trying and doing something new?

This week I did reach that 100 mile ahead of schedule. HOWEVER, here’s the catch… When I signed up for this 2020 miles challenge I had two goals for myself. One, was to obviously finish it. Two, I wasn’t going to run the entire 2020 miles, but would use the combination of the running I did for this year with intentional walking (which at this point is mostly me walking my dog, lol). I have no deadline, other than 12/31/2020. So for this first month, I simply calculated that I needed to reach 168 miles by the end of the month. I decided that 68 miles would come from running and 100 would have to come from walking. And that was my plan.

Can I do better than that? Yes. Last January I ran 100 miles. My ability to do better than I was currently doing did make it hard to not compare in a negative way. So the new question is, why was I holding back?

I think when you are in a place where you are doing the best that you possibly can and you are accepting of that truth and you own it, you are in a good place. You are in a place where you stop comparing yourself to others in a negative way. Your joy is not compromised as a result of that and you can be happy for others because you are happy with yourself.

I was holding out because of my plan. This challenge is just a part of what I have planned for myself this year. I have other goals, new goals, big goals and I am excited to be working towards then simultaneously with the 2020 mile challenge. These first 3 weeks in January were the only real “down” time that I can foresee in the near future. So as much as I wanted to go out and run more or walk more and add on to my miles, I did hold back. I took that time to do other things, besides running, that I need to work on as well.

Because of this, I feel like I have established a solid routine. I feel comfortable fitting in the extra time I am taking to do this along side with the other things I love like being a mom, a wife, a teacher, and a friend. This was super important to me because the second half of 2019 was very overwhelming. With a move and new commute, a busy summer, and relentless comings and goings, I felt like a chicken with my head cut off and I didn’t know when and where I was coming and going. It was awful and I wasn’t about to sacrifice my mental health so that I could show off a milestone that I knew I was going to reach anyways. I didn’t need to reach my goal on someone else’s timeline.

If “Comparison is the thief of joy” then maybe…

Self-acceptance is the fuel for happiness.

Me! 🙂

How did I reach the milestone ahead of schedule? I realized that I needed 3 more miles to end the week with this…

and that didn’t interfere with my plan.

I do lot of self reflection and I believe that I am a very self-aware person. Self-acceptance is a different beast though. It is tough out there. Even with the best of intentions and support, it’s hard not to get caught up in the game of comparisons. But, you never know someone else’s whole truth, even people that you think you know in real-life. Just focus on knowing your own truth and finding joy in your own successes no matter how small or how long it may take you. And if you have to compare, use it to better yourself, not bitter yourself.

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