I recently attended the Minneapolis Yoga Conference. I had no idea what to expect and showed up on the first day with one goal for the weekend: “do not compare yourself to others.” I heard the quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” several weeks prior, and had not been able to stop reflecting on this statement.
How much of our suffering derives from comparison? We drive ourselves crazy comparing ourselves to our peers, family members, celebrities, perfect strangers, etc. “She’s prettier, funnier, skinnier than me.” “He’s stronger, richer, kinder, more successful than me.”
During the three-day conference, my little experiment banning comparison revealed three lessons to me:
1. I had so much more time. I realized I had been spending so much energy and time focusing on my shortcomings, as well as the successes of others. When I let go of this toxic habit, I created room for what I love to do, yoga!
2. I could be present with ease. Many times when I start letting my monkey mind run with a comparison, I lose my present focus. I think about how I need to get skinnier, prettier, more flexible, etc.. in the future. I lose my present peace of mind. Without the monkey mind, I was able to focus on the people in front of me and make heartfelt connections without thinking about what was to come.
3. I was happier. Releasing comparison invites self-acceptance to emerge. The reason why we compare ourselves to others is an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. When we relinquish this feeling of unworthiness, abundance wells up inside to fill the void. We are enough. We have enough. We are worthy to receive.