Motherhood

The Real Thief of Joy

 

Comparison is not the thief of joy, I am.

And you are too.

Start typing the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy” (you know the one!) into your Google search bar and you won’t even have to finish before it pops up as a search result.  Over 400,000 unique search results.  Just as many image results. Heck you can even buy it beautifully scripted on a wall hanging off of Etsy.

But why? Why are we so readily buying into this mirage?

For starters, comparison is the act of finding similarities — have we forgotten the wonderful world of venn diagrams? It is not the act of identifying what ways others are outperforming us in our own lives. Semantics yes, I know. I know we all misuse this word. I know we all readily accept how we misuse this word and here I am building my case of dismantling this hugely popular maxim on semantics…?

Stay with me for a moment.

Comparison is not the thief of joy, the lies we tell ourselves are.

Can I say that again? And you let it really sink in?

Comparison is not the thief of joy, the lies we tell ourselves are.

A few other words for comparison: connection, resemblance, similarity, relation, association, and likeness.

Do you know what all of these words have in common? None of them rob me of any amount of joy.  

When I am able to connect with someone I just met, I feel joy.  

When I find a resemblance of myself in the mom at the grocery store bouncing a baby on her hip while checking off her list and feeding the toddler snacks while answering a phone call and fumbling through all of it, I feel joy.

When I realize just how similar my superhero mom best friend and I are after texting back and forth for days on end (with half day long gaps of course), I feel joy.

When I relate to a story told by another real life mom on my favorite collaborative motherhood blog — I feel JOY.

In today’s world we are pushed to own our authenticity, an unedited version of ourself. To call ourselves unique and own it.  But how on earth could we ever do that without the act of comparison?

From where I’m standing comparison is not only not the thief of joy, it is in fact the opportunity to receive joy.

You see mama, I think when we embrace the quote “comparison is the thief of joy” in reality we not only reject the opportunity to receive joy but we also create this sense of cognitive dissonance that further perpetuates our feelings of inadequacy.

Why can’t I stop comparing myself to others? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I only see the good in my own life?

We were designed to compare. Without it I doubt anyone of us would still be alive. A few (extremely) rough examples:  Fire? Too hot. Frozen pond? Too cold.  Manhole size ditch? Too deep. Cliff ridge? Too high.

You get the picture. Denying our innate sense to compare is like denying the fact that we are all human.

In any case comparing myself to another person does not inherently rob me of joy:

She and I both work part time outside the home.

You see? No joy robbed. Just good ol’ fashioned information gathering.  However, the lies I allow myself to believe (based on surface level information and assessments) do rob me of joy:

She and I both work part time outside the home… and yet her house always looks so clean and her family so put together. How does she do that? Why can’t I? What am I doing wrong?

I could go on and on right?

…and yet she manages to get dinner on the table (and Instagrammed) all of the time. How does she do that? Why can’t I? What am I doing wrong?

…and yet they’re always on some sort of adventure, doing FUN things, not just chores. How does she do that? Why can’t I? What am I doing wrong?

Sound familiar?

You see, you and I can relate. We’re connected and we bare resemblance to one another.

Don’t you feel a sense of joy because of it?

I know I do.

Comparison is not the thief of joy, the lies we tell ourselves are.

From where I’m standing comparison presents us with plenty of opportunities to tell ourselves lies — but we get to choose whether or not we let ourselves believe them. From where I’m standing comparison also presents us with plenty of opportunities to receive joy.  Or rather, choose joy.

And mama, today? I’m choosing joy.

Sure there’ll be some days that I won’t, maybe even a lot at first. But I’m willing to bet that if we push to encourage each other to receive joy amidst comparison — to deny the falsities our hearts try to tell us and choose the love tucked away there in that moment instead — well then mama, I venture to say that instead of finding that joy has been taken we’ll see the power we’ve had to both give and receive it all along.

 

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Harben Porter
    October 24, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    I love this. Well done, Laura! It’s such a hard thing to remember but such a valuable lesson.

    • Reply
      Laura Blanton
      October 26, 2016 at 9:22 am

      Thank you so much Harben! And I couldn’t agree more. :)

  • Reply
    currently : november
    November 24, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    […] I enjoyed reading Laura’s thoughts on the real thief of joy. […]

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