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It's Human Nature to Compare Ourselves to Others

What we do with that comparison is what really counts.

This past Sunday I went out for a run. It was a nice cool morning and I was feeling really great about the few miles I had in the bag and the pace at which I was running.

My stamina had improved over the past few weeks — that's a great feeling for me. I am a pretty slow runner, more of a quick jogger, I would say.

But that morning I was feeling great!

At the end of my run, a few feet before my turn off to home, another runner briskly bolted past me pushing his child in a jogging stroller.

He seemed to be going at double my speed.

"You're making me look bad," I yelled out at him.

"We're almost done," he shouted back. "Just trying to get home!"

His arm politely waved as he continued off ahead.

In that split second, my runner's high evaporated.

Watching that man run past me with the grace of a gazelle — all the while pushing a stroller — I couldn’t help but feel silly about my speed and form. Would I ever be the runner that he is? Is this really the right exercise for me?

As I reached my house, it hit me... Why am I comparing myself to this man?

I'm out running, doing something great for my body and by comparing myself to him I'm only making myself feel like a failure and ignoring the fact that I was just feeling so great about my run! 

Why is it in our human nature to compare ourselves to others? We all do things at our own pace, in our own ways, on our own terms — it's called individuality. It's what makes us unique.

There will always be people who will run faster than us, but at the same time there will always be people who run slower.

It doesn't matter.

What does matter is how we feel about the efforts we're making — when we feel like failures, we get in our own way, become stuck, and then truly fail.

Think about the most successful people you know or read about, they all have one thing in common: They keep moving forward. They might compare themselves to others, but they accept their differences and use them to their advantage. They learn from their failures and they don't give up — they don't get in their own way.

This is what we need to do in all aspects of our lives. Whether it be as parents, employees or athletes. Be proud of all of our efforts. Be proud of who we are. Don't compare yourselves to others, but learn from them and your "failures." Keep moving forward.

What a great lesson to pass on to our children.

So the next time you feel the need to compare yourself to another parent, or your child to another child, or yourself to another athlete: Don't!

Instead, learn from what they are doing, see if it fits into your way of doing things, pat yourself on the back, and move on.

Move forward.

And as it was in my case, you might just realize that this is your style, slow and steady, and that you feel really good about it.

For me, that always wins the race!

Linda Fass October 05, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Another great article! Keep up the good work. I love your mix of content.
Carolyn October 05, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Love it! Fran and I ride on the weekends and you made me laugh because we always feel great gettting out there early on a great day and we are riding along only to get blown away by two 70 year old men! We laugh and say "its the equipment, they have more high tech bikes than us!" and keep on going.
Catherine Magner October 05, 2011 at 05:32 PM
Thanks Ladies! Love the story Carolyn. I am laughing as I write back. Too funny and so true!
Joseph M. Gerace (Editor) October 05, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Are any of you ladies running the 5K with me this weekend? http://aol.it/ohLfM5
Catherine Magner October 05, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Joe, now you are making us look bad! Unfortunately not, but good for you and have a great time!
Waltraud Unger October 05, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Catherine, once again you are right on! Everyone is unique and comparing yourself to others does more harm than good!

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