You should take the time to express gratitude for what you have. We are going to find out why our mind is always comparing us to other people and how by embracing our present and being grateful of what we receive could make us stronger.
Comparing yourself to other people is very easy to do. It seems that human beings are somehow hardwired to look at their own lives and then look at the lives of others, and start comparing and contrasting the two. That doesn’t mean this is a healthy process.
Understanding Our Need for Comparisons
Do any of these statements sound familiar? Do you ever catch yourself making one or more of the following statements?
- “I wish I had her hair. She always looks fabulous.”
- “My car is a real clunker. When I drive down the street, all of the other automobiles are nicer than mine.”
- “I wish I had a big, expensive house like he/she does.”
- “He is always smiling and happy. I wish I had his life.”
- “If only I could be like that person.”
Back when your cave-dwelling ancestors were ecstatic if they had anything to eat every couple of days, food was very important. Imagine that there were a couple of friendly Paleolithic tribes located right next to each other. One of the tribes had excellent hunters. It seemed they were always eating brontosaurus burgers and saber-toothed tiger ribs, while the second tribe was lucky to eat at all. If this situation continued for any serious amount of time, the first tribe would thrive, reproduce and grow, while the second tribe would probably fade into oblivion.
So, it would have made sense for the hungry tribe to compare itself to its neighbors. When the hungry cavemen saw that the other tribe was so good at hunting, that might make the tribesmen in the starving group work harder at their hunting skills. They may go next door to their well-eating neighbors and ask for some tips about hunting.
Their survival instinct told them that if they did not get better at hunting, they would not be around very long. So, they compared their poor abilities to the considerable hunting talents of their next-door neighbors, in order to get better at this life-saving skill.
Today we don’t need to do this.
Why do We Keep Making Comparisons Today?
Comparing ourselves to others doesn’t present a live-or-die set of results, in most cases. Despite some scary statistics you will see in a moment, most people have a roof over their heads, food to eat, water to drink and the ability to regulate the temperature in their homes. Because of this, humans have started comparing themselves to others in ways that really don’t matter. Maybe our survival instinct is failing us in modern times.
You wish you were taller, like your friend. You hate that you can seemingly never lose weight, while you know someone who can eat just about anything and always look slim and trim. You compare your car, your home, your bank account and sometimes even the members of your family to those components in someone else’s life.
This is never a good idea, because it can create frustration, low self-esteem, and a mentality where you settle for your current lot in life, because maybe you have it better than somebody else.
Stop worrying about your neighbor, the wealthy Internet guru you saw online or the gorgeous celebrity who seems to have it all. Truth be told, those people would be jealous of you in a lot of ways, and it makes no sense to compare yourself to them anyway.
Creating a sense of the true value and worth of your life, as opposed to trying to keep up with the Joneses, begins with practicing gratitude.
Appreciating What You Have
It’s okay to want more than you currently have. This is how human beings drive themselves. When you practice gratitude, and are thankful for your blessings, this doesn’t mean you should stop working to be the best “you” that you can possibly be.
If the greatest engineers, scientists, doctors, professors and geniuses of the day all stopped working because they were happy to be smarter than most, we may still be living in the electricity-free caves of our ancestors mentioned earlier.
Practicing gratitude simply means acknowledging the good things in your life right now.
You cannot control the future. It is good to plan for the future, and make preparations that increase the odds that your life will be the way you want it to. However, you have no control even over just one second from now. You also cannot control the past. It is what it is. The past is gone, and the future is not yet here. Literally the only thing that makes up your entire existence as far as time is concerned is this present moment.
Embrace your Present
Instead of living to chase some achievement, embrace your “now”. Research tells us that those people who are fully aware of their present moment live longer than men and women who are plowing through life worried about tomorrow. This is in part because when you are fully aware of this present moment in time, you automatically become appreciative.
A mindful awareness of right now means that you see, hear and experience what is going on around you this instant, not yesterday, not tomorrow, not one hour from now.
All of your senses are attuned to your current existence.
This makes it easy to see the blessings that you have been given. Instead of thinking, “I can’t wait for that be Christmas bonus,” you say, “I am grateful for this job.” This living in the moment awareness makes you thankful that you don’t have everything your heart desires. If you did, what would there be to look forward to in life?
Those that are mindfully aware of the present moment have shown dramatically lower stress levels than people caught up in the rat race.
You are aware of your breath right now. You are aware of where you are sitting or standing, how you feel, and what your 5 senses are experiencing, right now. When you focus on the present moment, you become instantly grateful for existing, in whatever current state you inhabit.
9 Powerful Ways to Express Gratitude for What You Have
Here are a few ways to express gratitude in your life. Practice them frequently and stop comparing yourself to others, and you will find acceptance and growth, as well as less stress and more peace with who you are.
1. Say “thank you” for each new challenge you receive, because this gives you a chance to be the best you can possibly be.
2. Take a moment right now and look around you. What are you grateful for? You no doubt will see several things that you should be thankful for, no matter how big or small.
3. Be thankful for your mistakes, because that means you are just one more failure away from what you are trying to achieve.
4. Don’t forget to be thankful for the small things. Your shoes may be old and worn. They are better than no shoes at all.
5. Hug the difficult times in your life. These offer opportunities for incredible growth and understanding.
6. Remember there will always be someone who has more than you. Be grateful that person exists, as a lesson to you of what is possible.
7. Practice gratitude for your limitations, because with practice, they become skills.
8. Spend a few minutes in nature every day, and you can’t help but be amazed at and grateful for the experience.
9. Call a good friend and give them a heartfelt and meaningful thank you. This simple act practiced daily can impact your life positively in so many ways.
Remember, anyone can be thankful for the good things in life. Begin embracing what first may appear as challenges or failures, and be grateful for the opportunity to experience them.