Compared To What?
Whether your life sucks or it sparkles comes down to what you compare it to. Which means attitude is not so much about willpower but choices?
If I live in a brightly painted pigsty surrounded by neighbors who live in much the same, minus the paint, it would be easy to feel I’m luckier than the rest.
But if a neighbor down the lane lives in a magnificent mansion, I compare my colorful pigsty to their palatial place and be consumed with misery. Such is the power that comes through comparing.
Whenever we have a bad day, we compare it to our good days and, on that basis, it really does feel like a disaster. But compare it with those who have next to no food and who endure grueling suffering. Suddenly, our “bad” day, by contrast, looks like a picnic in the park.
Actually, comparisons don’t stop things being bad. But they do change the way we view them. Taking the relative sting out of situations comes through these simple decisions. So we can actually make hard times easier simply by the way we appraise them.
Take that certain someone at your place that has incredibly smelly socks. Their odiferous qualities are so intense we could think it’s intolerable cruelty. But what are we comparing this skunk like stink to? Well, if it was sweet smelling air infused with hints of lavender and gardenia, fair enough. But what if the wafting reek was up against the stench of the municipal tip?
If it were a case of fetid feet vs. acres of rotting rubbish, flyblown and putrefying in the sun, you might prefer the feet. But whatever we choose, be aware that it is our comparisons that shape the scope of our happiness.
Habitually cantankerous people have a lexicon of unhappy comparisons they apply before they even realize (as is their habit). While, more even keeled people tend to pick from a wider array when comparing oranges from apples.
Becoming more conscious of the choices we apply to decide whether to awfulize a situation or take it in our stride is not about trying to be a “goody-goody super saint”. It’s just a way of taking more control over the emotional energy we expend on events before they become overblown with disappointment or create some other adverse reaction.
Comparing, in a sense, flicks a switch, confirming how we “should” or “shouldn’t” feel. Relating one thing to another won’t change the facts but it can give us better ways to handle unfriendly events. By comparing with conscious awareness, we can choose what to focus on and avoid getting stuck in the rut of grumbling judgment.
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