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Blog Hop: Is Comparison the Thief of Joy?

March 2, 2012

Welcome to the Blog Hop “Comparison: Thief of Joy?” where bloggers from all over the world are invited to share their ideas about Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Corinne Rodrigues and Linda Lee have had a debate about comparison, now they have asked us to join the in the form of a blog hop. there will be links on their blogs: Corinne’s: http://everydaygyaan.com, and Linda Lee’s: http://www.dangerouslinda.com  Do you agree or disagree with Teddy’s POV?  Please share your unique perspective!

Teddy Roosevelt was right, wasn’t he? And it doesn’t matter. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I could spend a good while trying to untangle the pathology of this piece of wisdom. But it is wisdom that floats without an anchor. Is it true? I guess it depends on how we define it.

Seat-of-the-pants definitions:

Definition #1: “Shut up and be happy.”It is easier to think of the ways in which the comparison axiom can be misused. I don’t think Teddy meant to say this, but some days, it seems like we are being asked, by too many, to just be satisfied with what we’ve got.

Definition #2: The grass is always greener on the other side. No matter what we have, what we pick or what we seek, there is always something else that we will want in its place. Things are always better somewhere else. What are we going to do about it? So, don’t waste time chasing all the next better things, because it is a never-ending circle, a tower of Babel that will never be finished.

Definition #3: Pick your joy! I think this is especially true with love—or it may be the same idea. I don’t want to find myself wishing for something else even after I have chosen something. It’s not an easy place in which to to put myself. Finding one’s joy is pretty big life work. Finding it in the love of our life, our children or our work: not easy. But it is what we have to do to really LOVE those things like they deserve.

It is really hard. It is real work. I think the most compelling discussions about finding joy are about finding life partners, or just people with whom we want to share intimate space. Intimacy. It needs the joy. It needs the desire. It needs that attraction. It needs the idea that will stem and stymy comparison.

Because we will always compare. We see, always, people who are attractive, desirable—we see this even when we are with someone we love. But there are times in our life, if we are blessed, when we are with someone who is pretty, attractive and desirable. But no matter how pretty, attractive, desirable that person is, no matter who they are—even the “hottest” movie star, there is someone who will be prettier and more attractive. But if the person is that person of joy, they won’t be more ATTRACTING.

It is a fine trick. And maybe it is not a trick but a blessing I have experienced. But one of the most wonderful feelings in the world is walking down the street and seeing a beautiful woman, pretty, put together, maybe even meeting them or maybe even getting noticed by her and thinking: Wow, what a beautiful woman. And having the freedom to do that, being able to make the comparison and fully understanding that the real joy is that even given the reality of that other’s beauty or compelling facade, the joy, the person that I have chosen before, the person I get to be with is where I want to be, who I want to be with and who I love and where the joy is, because it has been found, cultivated and lived.

There is no wishing for someone else. There is not regret. There is no I-could-have-done-better or could have something better. No questions. There are times when we know, there is nothing better. And maybe that blessing does not follow to the point of being the relationship with which I get to live, but at the very least, it is a profound gift to know this about myself, about what I want about what my joy is and where I will not folly because I need not chase a place where joy does not live.

Definition #4: Don’t let envy or feelings of inadequacy rob you of the joy you should experience with the beauty and love in front of you. Count your blessings. We all compare. We make comparisons. That is how we know that things are the same. It is how we know how things are different. It is how we know that we have what we want and need and how we avoid what we don’t want and need to keep out of our lives. It is enough, though, to know that we are enough. We don’t always have the joys we want. We don’t always have enough and there are plenty of things and people in this world who want to thwart us from having enough or thinking that we are enough; plenty of commercials and low-esteem wannabes who remind us of what we don’t have, what we are not. Compare and we will find your joy and know that we’ve found it. But when we find it, let it be our joy. Make it our joy.

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2012 10:19 am

    Hi, Clarence! ~

    Welcome to the Comparison Blog Hop!

    I used to think it was really hard work to find the love of my life and stay in love with him (and keep him in love with me!) But, it’s a lot easier today than I ever dreamed it could be!

    This is another area where I find ‘comparisons’ to be valuable. If I’d met my sweetheart, Mr. C, when I was in my twenties, I don’t think we would have dated. I was inadvertently looking for someone to ‘save’ me and he’s not the type. Actually, the men who rushed in to rescue me were not the type either, but they wanted to be. They tried to be. And they ended up hating me for it.

    Anyway, that’s pretty simplistic — the Truth is more complex. But, my point is that when I look back on all my past relationship experience I’m able to appreciate the amazing Mr. C in a new light, by comparison. Apparently, I needed to try all those different types of ‘wrong’ relationships to tease out what would be ‘right’ for me.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom on this subject! Love!! XOXO

    • March 2, 2012 10:29 am

      Yes, Linda. It is way more complex than what we’ve said, which is why I hesitated to take on this task. There is so much to say, things that I won’t ever have the time to say and many of them that I will not get to say to people who matter. The one thing is that we will never have time in our lives to try all of the wrong relationships, and I don’t think we have to try them to figure them out. I count that as a blessing more than an exercise in wisdom: that there just is not enough time–not enough life to fit all the possibilities into our experience, but we love who we love, and sometimes that is enough to know. Even if it is the “wrong” person.

  2. Pat Lindgren permalink
    March 2, 2012 1:30 pm

    Interesting question that won’t let go of the imagination. My first thought was “no” because comparisons can be poetic and poetry is a great expression of most emotions including joy. Then my second thought was “yes” because it takes one out of the moment, out of the pure joy of celebrating something wonderful to remembrance (and maybe some nostalgia) for a moment in the past. It takes one out of the moment and out of present company. Now I can think about something else today 🙂

  3. March 2, 2012 3:35 pm

    I’ve been pondering this since your post popped up on my iPhone this morning. Since I’ve not updated my blog in ages and I’m opting out of those instructions to comment on yours instead. #4 in particular – amen. We compare. Whether nature or nurture, it’s what we do. We compare when we are inspired, compete, encourage, succeed or fail. In the shadows of Mandela, Parks, Ghandi, Goodall, Winfrey or Jesus I can’t “measure up,” yet the spirit of each one moves me to be better, which I personally find a joyful experience. Knowing I share a world in which they lived brings joy. Which piggybacks on your definition #3. Pick your joy. Not so easy. It requires a lot of mindfulness and work. Thank you for the reminder. I appreciate your post. It has lifted my spirits today. Thanks!

    • March 2, 2012 4:59 pm

      Thanks, Kate. it reminds me that we need to be happy for other’s successes when they are providing us with a good, humble example, inspiration and better worlds.

      I would also like to remind folks of one of your favorite quotes that tells us a lot on this subject.

      “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
      ~ Albert Camus

  4. March 2, 2012 9:45 pm

    The more I read the many posts about ‘Comparison’ the more I wonder if this trait is in grained within us.. Do we ever know that we are being compared to or are we comparing others without any notion of doing it…
    I keep going back to my own post and wonder I compared the 2 situations unknowingly… did I make those changes knowingly or unknowingly… I will never know
    Thank you for your comment and visit…it is appreciated.

  5. March 3, 2012 3:23 am

    Clarence – First of all thank you for joining the blog – our first male hopper and you’ve done a great job of it. I try not to compare my relationships in general, but since I’ve been in some pretty awful ones, it’s difficult not to. But I know just what you mean about walking down the road looking at a handsome guy, admiring him and then giving thanks for all the goodness of the relationship I am in.
    I’ve had various kinds of working experiences in the past but for the last five years I chosen to opt out of regular work and stay at home. When I see people rushing to work early in the morning and coming back home late at night, I compare myself and give thanks too for ‘choosing my joy’.
    I think you and Linda have sold me on the positives of comparing….finding a balance is what it’s all about.
    Thanks again, Clarence. You helped me to remember my many blessings! ♥

    • March 3, 2012 3:49 am

      I try not to compare too much, either, unless it is something that is going to be instructive. And then there are the patterns. Sometimes I see them too late. All of this, not needing to compare, there being no comparison, patterns, blessing, instruction: These have been very prominent devices in recent days. And I wonder if I am drawing the wisdom form these days.

  6. March 3, 2012 11:47 pm

    Reblogged this on Reflections.

  7. March 3, 2012 11:49 pm

    Clarence, great definitions. And congrats on being the first brave male to produce such meaningful thoughts on comparison! Bravo, I say.

  8. March 3, 2012 11:56 pm

    comparing for love is a tough one, I always wanted what my folks had in marriage, then found out what the had was horrific. I am happy now since I quit looking for perfection in the eyes of others and found it on my own through my own heart and eyes.

    • March 4, 2012 7:56 am

      I had the privilege of seeing a great relationship between my parents that I also knew was far from perfect. Not fiction about it–and knowing that it wasn’t the relationship I needed to seek. My mother has said more than once, and my fathers acknowledges, that she would not give up her relationship with my father for anything, but given the challenges that face couples today, she hopes for something different for her kids. And even though my sisters have great husbands with homes that are based on values that are similar at the core, if different around the edges, they are quite different in what they are. and it’s a way that we have to figure out on our own, because no one went before. That might be one of a few identifiable reasons that I am almost 50 years old and have not gotten close to getting married.

  9. March 4, 2012 7:12 am

    Welcome Clarence, Interesting post and some great points there to ponder over.

    • March 4, 2012 7:42 am

      I just wonder if we have someone to put all of this together. What a feat it would be. I still have half of the hoppers to visit. It’s enough to read it all and the comments that go with it, but I just know that what I had on my mind was a small and profoundly incomplete concept. I am reading a lot of good stories, a lot about school, a lot about multiple family-children and motherhood and doses of gained wisdom on every port.

      Thanks for visiting, Sulekha.

  10. March 4, 2012 10:59 am

    Clarence, I really like how you dissected this whole topic. Very thorough, insightful and well done.

  11. March 4, 2012 5:41 pm

    Interesting points you make within your definitions.I agree that we should be able to appreciate the beauty around us without it diminishing the perception of what we have. I’m happy to have found your post through the hop.

  12. March 5, 2012 9:41 pm

    Hello Clarence.
    I’m not participating in the hop, but I am trying to visit everyone else & get their point of view. There’s a lot to digest in the posts & the comments that follow, but I do like how you express yourself here. What I will say is that comparison can be good if we use it as a tool to learn from & grow, but bad if it hurts the one(s) being compared.
    I enjoyed your post.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • March 5, 2012 10:11 pm

      Thanks, Andy.

      Good nut shell statement. You are right. It is all a lot to wade through, all the post and wonderful comments and personal stories. More reading to do. More writing. More thinking. More feeling.

  13. March 6, 2012 2:55 am

    Wow Clarence that was some wise definitions and I sure as hell agree to all of them! Take joy in what you have.

    http://rimlybezbaruah.blogspot.in/2012/02/lingering.html

  14. March 6, 2012 6:09 pm

    Wonderfully inspiring and powerfully delivered! “Don’t let envy or feelings of inadequacy rob you of the joy you should experience with the beauty and love in front of you. Count your blessings.” I love this! And isn’t it the truth that many a time our very insecurities are what keep us from experiencing joy? They blind us to who we are and what we can aspire to be. I so enjoyed reading your post!

  15. March 8, 2012 8:08 pm

    “It is enough, though, to know that we are enough.” I spent most of my life thinking enough was never enough! I’m just grateful to have found out differently.

    Thank you for sharing…

  16. March 10, 2012 11:41 pm

    Hi Clarence, the way you expressed the various definitions of comparisons is impressive. I especially think the description “grass is greener on the other side” fits the entire concept well, coz that is what it finally boils down to. Moreover, the unknown or unseen has always intrigued ma, and for us, “there is something better out there that we do not or can not have.” And there starts the cycle of comparison-disappointment-adjustment/acceptance/unhappiness.
    Regds, Punam

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  1. Quotable Quotes from Corinne’s Blog Hop ‘Comparison is the thief of Joy’ « Dreamz Forever

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