You’re on the interweb, talking about your life. You’ve just bought something and shared a photo. Or posted about a book you read. Or signed up for an online class. You are happy. You stay on the computer and see a post about a different purchase, book, or class. Someone else is describing their (different) choice in glorious terms. And just like that, you are unhappy with your decision.
You should have done more comparing, you think. The other choice was better. Smarter. Maybe you can switch your class for hers. The joy goes out of your emotional sails like hydrogen out of the Hindenburg.
How can it be that your satisfaction and joy could be deflated so fast? How did you get left with dust in your mouth and heart?
Comparison is a natural inclination. But the conclusion that the other choice was better is not a natural inclination. It’s a sign of competition, of having to be the best, have the best, know the most. It’s a mindset that makes unhappiness the norm. Competitive happiness a tough game, and you can’t win it. Because there are always other choices, bigger choices, better decisions. You are on a short, straight road to “not enough.”
If you aren’t sure about what makes you happy, it may be time to spend some time with yourself, discovering more about what lights your heart, what brings you joy. It’s not about what others are doing. Where is your center? Where is your balance? Your joy is uniquely yours. Be proud of it. Satisfaction feels like a ripe tomato–warm and heavy for its size. Your joy is yours to have. Nurture it.
—Quinn McDonald is competitive and finds it a not-pretty characteristic. She works to keep it calmed down to ambition.