You may remember the famous dialogue from the Hindi movie 3 Idiots :
“Fail hone pe dukh hota hai. Lekin agar dost pass ho jaaye aur aap fail ho jaao toh bohot zyada dukh hota hai.”
(You feel sad when you fail. But, if your friends end up passing an exam and you fail, you are more aggrieved)
This dialogue evoked rounds of laughter from the audience, but this itself has a deeper societal malaise attached.
What is that, you ask?
It’s the dis-ease of comparison amongst human beings.
Recently a client, a bright, young man, early twenties shared some of his challenges. What struck me though, was how he was adding to his problems by comparing himself to other people he ‘perceives’ to be doing much better than him in his life.
Why I use the word perceive is because we are most often blissfully unaware of the challenges of another human being.
There’s a saying in Hindi-
“हर इंसान को दूसरे की ज़ेब और पत्नी ज़्यादा अच्छी लगती है।”
Or as it’s said in the English language-
“The grass is always greener on the other side.”
And why is that?
Because we’ve not been on the other side.
The Grass is Not Always Greener
A dear friend of mine got selected in an excellent governmental job–The wet dream of Indian middle-class family.
His family and friends were thrilled. Many around him assumed that he’s hit the jackpot.
Life is a bliss for him.
Everything’s going well.
He’s soon gonna marry his college sweetheart.
What’s there to be worried about? His life is perfect!
Within a year of his job, his mother got afflicted with cancer. She passed away last year after battling the disease for some time.
Most of his friend circle did not even know the kind of challenges he was going through in his life.
Let me narrate you the story of another dear buddy from college. This guy was the epitome of hard work. He took upon a student loan to finance his graduate degree as his parents couldn’t afford his expensive college education. He taught me and many others like me some of the toughest subjects of our Civil Engineering course. He helped us pass so many exams (by teaching us, i.e.).
He worked hard to attain his goal (again of a government job. Hey, we are from Uttar Pradesh!) When he landed the job, once again, people presumed, his life is set. Everything’s gonna be hunky-dory. Life is a bed of roses for him. All these assumptions were discounting all his hard work and strains of the past!
Anyway, within a couple of years of his job, he got afflicted with a non-life-threatening disease. His health took a terrible toll — To the extent that his health is still in recovery mode. He had trouble navigating work, health, astronomical expectations of family, and family’s resistance to his love life.
Not an enviable position to be in for sure!
I use these two examples is to exemplify how we sometimes have no idea what’s going on the in lives of the people we think are doing “much better than us.”
As I’ve spoken about it in many of my articles before that happiness and distress are part of human experience package on planet earth. One cannot just choose one and get away with not experiencing another.
Only if you make your mental faculties ‘unfuckwithable’ (a term popularised by Mindvalley founder and one of my teachers, Vishen Lakhiani), you can find peace.
I share some tips on increasing your inner power in this article.
Waves of joy and distress keep hitting your mental shores. That’s how life is. You gotta accept and make peace with it.
Comparison not only is hugely detrimental to your mental health but also burns your heart. It can not only lead to depressing thoughts but, also can birth envy. If you are aware of the story of Duryodhana from the Indian epic Mahabharata, you’d know there is no disease of the heart as vicious as envy.
I gave you two real-life examples of a couple of friends to demonstrate how the grass is not always greener on the other side. Assuming even if it is, it serves no purpose for you to think about the ‘colour’ of the grass on the other side when you’ve to live on yours.
A Tale of Zen
Once a Samurai went to a zen master. As soon as he saw the unassuming charm, effortless radiance the master exuded, the Samurai found himself feeling inferior.
He asked the master honestly, why is it that merely by glancing at you (and being overwhelmed by your graceful energy), I feel inferior?
The master took him outside the monastery and showed him two trees standing side by side: one tall, one short.
The master said, “You know why the trees never feel inferior or superior?”
“Because they don’t compare.”, replied the Samurai.
The master said you have your answer.
In inferiority lies the seed of superiority and vice versa—comparison fuels negativity in our heads.
Not all are equal, Nor everyone can be equal.
We’re all just unique. There is no question of inferior or superior.
Creation wouldn’t have been the same without even the most insignificant leaf, as much as the pole star.
Drop this disease of comparing.
Recognise your divine worth.
Thank you for reading until the end of the article. If you liked it, please do share it with people you think can benefit from reading this. 🙂
God bless you with laughter, vibrant health and peace.
4 thoughts on “The disease of comparison”
Wonderfully written and explained . Truman show is one my all time favourites.
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Very well written and examples were an eye-opener to understand the phrase. By God’s grace, I’ve never been affected by comparison disease. It’s just that I do feel ashamed of myself because of the horribe state I am in. Then I think of the hard work I need to put in as that’s the only solution. I don’t complain either because I know that I have a lot on my platter to be grateful for. Somebody in the world doesn’t even have roof over his head and doesn’t get to eat food. I am blessed with a lot more than I could imagine.
The hindi phrase what I’ve heard is ‘dusre ki thaali me hamesha zyada hi dikhta hai’ Ye jeb aur biwi ka phrase to kabhi nahi suna, lagta hai you made it on your own
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Through your blog, I would like to recommend everyone to watch Capernaum (2018) directed by Nadine Labaki. It would make you forget all of your complaints and would make you to be grateful for the life you have. Stop comparing your life with others.
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