In the same vein as yesterday's post, today I'm giving you one of my favorite quotes that helps me be satisfied and content with my kids, my partner, and my life.
Comparison is the Thief of Joy.
I first became aware of this idea of comparison stealing our joy while I was in the midst of chronic pain. It was immensely helpful in pulling me out of the depression that had accompanied my pain. There was a time when all I could see was my own suffering and whenever I looked outside of myself I only saw other parents, including my own partner and mother, doing more with such ease. Seeing their seemingly easy lives put my own in such stark contrast that it was crushing. I was wracked with guilt that I simply wasn't a good enough mom, partner, or person.
And one day, laying on the couch, exhausted after a long day, I realized that all of these people I was comparing myself to had absolutely nothing to do with me. My partner hadn't been in a car accident while pregnant, so the fact that he could chase and wrestle our kids had nothing to do with the fact that I couldn't. The mom at the park who seemed to have it all wasn't dealing with my struggles; she had her own that I had no way of knowing about. The carefully curated lives I saw on Facebook and Instagram weren't accurate depictions of those people's lives, nor did they have anything to do with my life. And in that moment, bone tired and listening to my partner do bedtime alone, I said to myself, "This is bullsh*t."
And it is.
Why should someone else's wonderful life make me feel terrible about my own?
I took a few minutes to be grateful for all that I have, to list each thing out in my mind, and focus on it. And while it didn't take my physical pain away, it did help a great deal with my emotional pain. Because there is a difference between pain and suffering.
And that is what is so powerful about this message. It doesn't change anything about your life, it simply changes how you EXPERIENCE your life. It changes what you focus on, what you notice, what you emphasize as you construct the story of your life.
When we spend time noticing that the neighbor's child is crawling while our own is still scooting, we forget about the look of joy on our child's face as they finally reach a toy that was out of their grasp.
When we look with envy at the trim figure of another mom at the playground, we forget to revel in the glory of our own, marvelous bodies.
When look around our messy homes and wish for neat and tidy, we forget the joyful living that has been happening when we could have been cleaning.
When we hear about all of the chores a friend's partner does, we forget the tender moments we share with our own partner.
There are so many ways that comparison can cause us to suffer. When we compare our lives to the lives of others, and ours come up short (as they inevitably will), we become blinded to the positive aspects of our lives.
We simply can't see how lucky we truly are when we are focused on someone else.
Now, of course this doesn't mean we shouldn't have goals, or strive to learn more and do better. Or that we can't experience pain or jealousy. Those feelings are unavoidable in life. The trick is to not let them become the focus of your story. Honor them, treat yourself with grace and compassion, and then let them go and return you attention to the present moment. To the place that you are right now. And sometimes the present moment is painful too. And that's ok.