Why do people compare themselves to others?

Here is an interaction between Sadhguru and a questioner that might help you find the answer to the headline of this article.

Questioner: People compare themselves and others. We are being compared even now. Throughout out life, even since the times at our school, we are being compared. Why do people make such comparisons? Why can’t people really accept for who we are?

Sadhguru: The thing is we learn from what others have done in the past. We have learned to write ABC only because someone else wrote ABC before us. What you are capable of doing is all because you have learned it from someone else; what you are capable of doing has not come from you. It has come from the human experience, and writing ABC is just only an instance that has come out of the experience of language that’s evolved in generations and generations.

So, what you can do comes from other’s contributions to you. Because of that, a comparison is necessary. If not, you could be doing the silliest things and you would still be considering yourself to be doing great things in life. Just take your own past to understand it. Haven’t you gone through situations when you were thinking you were doing a great job and someone explained you how that was not the way to do it, and you found yourself to be considering yourself to be an idiot.

A comparison is not bad. It is necessary. Otherwise, idiots will be thinking that he is the king of everything. A comparison is not about you, it’s about what you can do. It is about your actions and reactions. We are all different human beings with the different capacity to do things. We need benchmarks to excel. If we don’t then, there is nothing to compare to and we will be starting each day from scratch and living our life in the same cycle.

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What’s the problem then?

The only problem is when you start thinking that you have a problem with someone else doing better than you. That is pure jealousy and envy. That shouldn’t be a problem, however. I am always trying to do things better than what I do, and for that, I seek someone else who are doing it better than I do. Only then my life would become easier. I don’t want to spend my time with dumb people who don’t know how to do their things. But if you are tyrant, then you would not want someone else to do better than you. That’s only a silly way of living. Your effort is all wasted on trying to stay on top of the heap if you start measuring yourself with others by asking, “Am I smaller than him? Am I bigger than him?”.

Your parents prodding you through and through is not because they are interested in doing things well, they are only thinking of being number one. Even if you run a hundred meters in seven seconds (though nobody has done that yet), they are only interested in you becoming better than the rest of them. The problem with that is that insecurities will arise. It’s as if they are trying to only be better than someone else. That’s such a wasteful life to live. You will only be miserable even if you succeed at becoming something because someone else has done a little bit better than you. That insecurity is going to pull you down someday.

What can you do?

You need to fix the way you experience life. You will be in a healthy state if you find joy in your own nature, with things that you do. If you go into a competition, it wouldn’t matter if you lose because you know that you did your best and you are blissful enough to enjoy with your commitment to do the best. If your action squeezes the happiness out of life around you, then there is a flash of success that you have seen, in a way. If not, you are only going to be miserable. It’s not whether you go up or down that matters, it’s if your activity goes up or down.

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This is the fundamental foundation needed for a healthy life. Remember when you were a child. When you were hungry and got something to eat, the moment when your stomach became full is when you became joyful. Every child understands this. What you need to understand is that the fundamental fabric of life is to stay in the state of being joyful to live a healthy life.

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