Comparison Kills Contentment

This morning at the gym, I started feeling a little smug

about the progress I’ve made in my daily workouts. In the previous months, I’ve dropped a few pounds, increased my stamina, and improved my strength.

So this morning when I saw this fit-looking man as I headed into the barbell area at the gym, and I subtly checked out how much weight he was using for his workout.

It’s a guy thing. We don’t judge shoes, we judge weights.

God help me, and I know what I’m about to say sounds stupid and superficial, but I felt a little superior when I saw that I was out-lifting this younger, athletic-looking guy

That is until I saw this kid behind him, a kid who might have weighed 130 pounds fully dressed and wet, and THAT kid, this skinny, scrawny kid who appeared to be all hair and bones, was lifting much more than me!

Do you know what happened to my contentment level at that moment? PFFFFFT! Because

comparison kills contentment.

When I compared myself against the first guy, I felt pretty good. But when I compared myself against the next guy, I felt diminished and defeated.

Ironically, neither of those two guys has anything to do with my personal health, strength, abilities, or performance. So why should their performance change my personal contentment level?

Here are 4 thoughts that popped into my head while driving home, tips that can help us all stay more content regardless of what’s going on around us:

1. If you must compare, compare yourself to yourself.

Don’t worry about what the people next to you are doing. They didn’t start where you started. Keep your eyes on your performance, and use your improvement as the encouragement and feedback you need to keep going.

2. Keep your eyes on your goals, not your “competition”.

Create and define goals–I mean meaningful, intentional goals–and focus on them. Don’t let interesting, distracting sub-goals–like beating your competition–blind you from what it is you wish to accomplish for yourself.

3. Stay in a place of humility.

Be grateful for where you are today, what you got today, and how you’re doing today. Gratitude generates contentment and prevents contempt.

4. Share encouragement to bring others along.

Nothing extends your contentment like reaching out to others with whom you share a common struggle or to whom you can offer some support. Feed your contentment by giving of yourself to someone who needs what you have.


Former U.S. President and leader Theodore Roosevelt got it right when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So for the sake of happiness, keep your eyes on your own paper.

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