Comparison – the key to so much suffering.
Obvious comparisons that cause us difficulty – comparing ourselves with others (what they have, what they do, how they look), and with standards (I should be able to do better than this, I’m useless, my efforts are not good enough).
These comparisons keep us in perpetual dissatisfaction and self-criticism, a state of never being sufficient.
Less obvious, our comparisons of life now to life in the past or in the future – everything was so much better when I was younger, before I had children, before I had to work; or will only be ok when I’m more grown up, when I’m promoted, when I’m famous, when I have time to myself again, when I retire, when I live in a different town, when I’m not confused or scared any more.
These comparisons keep us in stasis, unable to live now because of a life lost or a life as yet unrealised.
Both kinds of comparisons absent us from the life we’re already in, telling us always that life is not to be lived here, or now, but elsewhere, always elsewhere.
Can you see how deeply much of the marketing that surrounds us is invested in keeping us comparing, amplifying our dissatisfaction, our restlessness and our rootlessness, rather than turning into the fullness of what’s already here?
Giving up comparison does not mean giving up hope, or giving up aspiration. And most significantly it does not mean giving up commitment to improving things.
But it does mean giving up our disowning of this moment, this place, this ground upon which we stand – the only moment, place or ground we ever really have.
Photo with thanks to Kate Atkinson