Back in September, on my way to the Whistler Gran Fondo, I passed a church with a reader board that said:
Comparison is the thief of joy.
I’ve thought something along those lines for a long time. In that moment, it helped me let go of some of my anxiety about performing well at the event, and instead just focus on enjoying every moment I had there.
But since then I’ve kept thinking about what that sign said. For a long time, I’ve eschewed nearly all social media completely, and kept Facebook at as much of an arm’s length as I can, for that very reason. I know how carefully I curate my own Facebook posts, and I can only assume other people do the same thing. You can’t fell from social media when someone’s having a great week or the worst week of their lives: It’s just pictures of beautiful kids and selves, adorable dogs dogs, artful food, funny/sarcastic/on point memes, and so many targeted ads. It steals my contentment to compare my life with those snippets of success that people share.
Now I don’t waste my time with any of it. I just log in occasionally to see if anyone’s commented or tagged something about me, and then leave. No scrolling, no clicking, no getting sucked into the endless rabbit hole of non-chronological posts. Even that brief interaction tends to make me feel a little dirty, honestly. I wish I could get rid of it altogether, but my biking group uses it to set up rides sometimes.
Similarly, I’ve changed my Strava usage to try to avoid seeing other people’s rides, and instead use it to just track my own activity. There’s always someone faster, or someone who has more time and went farther, or someone who got more segment prizes than I did. That’s life. It steals my sense of satisfaction and accomplishment if I immediately get home and compare my performance with someone else’s and realize they were 0.5 mph faster than me on average.
So what’s the point?
I guess my takeaway is that God only gave us one life. We can choose to be thankful for it, to appreciate and be content with what we have, and try to use what He gave us to the maximum good of others and ourselves… or we can spend all our time wishing we had something else, comparing our lives unfavorably (or even favorably!) with others, constantly unsatisfied and unhappy.
I hope I can choose the path of contentment and thankfulness.