Living in the Gain

We’ve all done it: when scrolling through social media, comparing ourselves to others. It’s easy to feel badly about ourselves when we’re bombarded with images of people who seem to have more money, better bodies, or cooler friends than us. But before we go into a full-on self-loathing mode, let’s stop and think about what this type of comparison can do for our lives and how we can turn it into a positive experience instead!

When you compare yourself to others, it is easy to focus on what they have that you don’t.

One of the biggest reasons we compare ourselves to others is that it’s easy to focus on what other people have that we don’t, rather than celebrating what we already have. It’s more difficult to remember your accomplishments when you think about someone with a better job title than yours or who has nicer clothes. The solution? Try focusing on what you are grateful for instead of comparing yourself to others. Think about something great that happened today and focus on why it made you happy — you might find that this positive feeling can last longer than any fancy new thing someone else has!

Comparing yourself to others may encourage you to beat yourself up for not being as great as them.

Comparing yourself to others can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, it’s good to know that you’re not alone and that other people are struggling with similar things. On the other hand, it’s easy to focus on what they have that you don’t. This leads to feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth, which can take their toll on your mental health if allowed to go unchecked for too long (especially if those feelings are left unaddressed). If this sounds like something that resonates with your experience, then keep reading! I’m going to talk about how comparing yourself to others can lead your mind down a dark path — and what we can do about it!

In many cases, measuring backward can make you happier.

I have recently read the book The Gap and the Gain by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy.  In the book they describe what it means to be living in the “gap” and how to get out and live in the “gain.” Sometimes we struggle to achieve the ideal or the lofty goal we’ve set for ourselves. We are living in the gap when we are discouraged or upset and struggling when confronted with what we have not yet accomplished. It can be easy to spend lots of time, and it is generally not a healthy or happy place to be. 

A few weeks ago, a member was leaving the gym after a great class and said something to the effect of, “I wish I could have done better” or “but I was lifting baby weight.”  I commented back to her with the famous Theodore Roosevelt quote, “comparison is the thief of joy.” We talked for a while, and I explained that she should look at how far she had come. I encouraged her to think of how much strength she had gained in the last year and her improvement in her skills. When you are always judging yourself against an unattainable ideal, you’re bound to be constantly disappointed and living in the gap.  Dan Sullivan calls this act of comparison “living in the gap.” He calls recounting your progress “living in the gain. It’s human nature to focus on the “gap,” especially when surrounded by so much comparison. Focusing on the “gain” is a learned behavior. It must be trained. 

The Gap: the perceived distance between your current place and “the ideal” (either a future vision of yourself or another person).
The Gain: the progress you’ve already made toward that goal.

Try first to measure your success by how far you’ve come, by always measuring backward, not how far you are away from the ideal you’ve set for yourself. Often goals are no more than a distant horizon line, but when do we ever get to the horizon? Instead, you might be better served to turn around and focus on how far you’ve come from your starting point. 

Comparison may cause you to envy the lives of others instead of being grateful for your own life and what you have in it.

Comparison may cause you to envy the lives of others instead of being grateful for your own life and what you have in it. Envy is not a good motivator because it does not make you feel good about yourself or what you have accomplished. You might think that someone else has more money than you do or a better job, but this will only lead to jealousy and unhappiness on your part. Envy can make you feel like something is missing from your life that another person has found success with, which doesn’t help at all when trying to live a happy and positive existence!

There are many reasons why we compare ourselves to others: perhaps it makes us feel like we aren’t doing enough (or enough right) with our lives; maybe comparing ourselves allows us an excuse for procrastinating on tasks that need completion; sometimes comparing ourselves can even serve as an escape from responsibility by making us believe everything would be better if only…

Comparison can be useful when you’re motivated by someone else’s success!

For example, if you’re trying to become a writer, reading about other writers’ experiences can help you learn from their mistakes and successes. If they had a similar background and goal as yours, they likely had similar challenges along the way. You can learn something from what worked for them or what didn’t work for them and why.

In addition to learning from others’ experiences and personal growth stories, comparison also helps us avoid making the same mistakes again (if we want) and see new opportunities around us that we may have otherwise missed out on. For example, if your friend goes into business with an idea he thought up but isn’t doing well because people aren’t interested in it yet — and then later comes out with another product with the same premise — he might see this as an opportunity instead of another failed venture due to lack of interest (since he knows now how much demand there is).

Bottom line is — don’t compare yourself to others if you want to be happy and successful! Comparing yourself with others can lead to jealousy and envy that will only affect your happiness. Instead, focus on living your life as best as possible, reflecting on what you have already achieved and being grateful for what you have.

Jason Harrington

CEO & Founder

Prowess Fitness + Nutrition

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