Comparison vs. Contrast [VIDEO]

comparisoncontrastComparison is the thief of joy.
~Theodore Roosevelt

I believe this. I’ve experienced it. When I really want to get into pain I can just take a few minutes and compare my life to someone else, anyone else, that I perceive is better, smarter, prettier, kinder and more-put-together-er than me. Works every time! Pretty soon I feel overwhelmed and profoundly sad.

But then other times, I see someone’s situation that is different or even worse than mine and I feel better. Sometimes in an “I’m better than them” kind of way (to be quite honest) but often in an “I’m so truly grateful that I don’t have this problem to deal with” or “yes it can always be worse” kind of way. A way that leaves me with a sense of compassion for them and humility for myself.

I have pondered on this seeming paradox for a long time. Why would comparing myself in one situation be so harmful to me while in others it seemed the opposite? After what has likely been a couple of years of this thought popping in and out of my mind, the other day it was as though I could just suddenly see it clearly — it was because these two scenarios were not the same thing. I thought it was just two sides of the same coin but I was looking at it all wrong. One was comparison, yes, but the other was CONTRAST.

comparisontheifjoyWith contrast we can see so many more layers of beauty and meaning in things. Comparison narrows your vision and hyper focuses on only one or two aspects, but the contrast of things can actually heighten your awareness and bring you out of the dark. If you’ve ever done photography, or even played with the filters on Instagram you know a bit about contrast from an artistic standpoint. Often there is that sweet spot that allows more depth and difference in what you’re looking at to shine through. It actually enhances the beauty.

With contrast, you can tell the good from the bad, the beauty from the pain, the bitter from the sweet and the sorrow from the joy.

As we are able to view our lives in contrast from others, while still honoring the beauty and respect that they deserve because of their inherent worth, we move not just away from comparison but on to an entirely different dimension. We still retain the ability to be inspired and to grow into something more than what we are today. Comparison will truly steal this from us, right along with our joy.

There is even a natural law that explains this. The Law of Relativity states that anything we experience is neither inherently good or bad. That it’s all relative to something else. No matter how bad you think your life is now, you can always find someone who’s life is far better as well as far worse.  When we can keep a perspective that helps is exist in gratitude, then we are much more able retain our joy. Joy and gratitude are intrinsically tied, which is why comparing ourselves to others, rather than relishing in the mature contrast, removes us from gratitude and severs our tie with joy.

Sometimes I believe we do this on purpose since joy is one of the most vulnerable emotions we can have, and rather than lean into it, I believe we have learned to run from it, make it our enemy and minimize it at all costs. Brené Brown calls it Foreboding Joy when we are full of joy, but then we panic and wonder what could go wrong at the next turn. Instead, I prefer to ask, just how much joy can you hold? Check out this video I made a little while back about that very thing:

I hope and pray that this post came across with portion of the enlightenment that this concept has given me. We all have those “AH-HAs” that can take quite a lot of explaining to accurately describe what we felt in an instant. If this moved you, please comment below and consider sharing with a friend. And perhaps when you are messing with the contrast settings on your phone with your photo editing, that this concept will ring back to you, lifting you up and inspiring you to move away from comparing, and allow the contrast of life to bring you all the beauty is has to offer.


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