I finally caught on to the need to cut off this behavior. It will make a huge difference for you too.
There are plenty of things you can start doing immediately to be happier, like making smart investments in yourself or strengthening relationships. You can even take a class on happiness. I learned the importance of this in my corporate life and have experienced it even more so as an entrepreneur because now I’m more in charge of my outlook than ever.
But as you dial up your happiness, it’s just as important to consider how you blow-up your happiness (and I don’t mean blow-up in a good way like, “My phone’s blowing-up after I posted my selfie with Lionel Richie!”). There’s one form of self-punishment that has no equal on the sinister-scale.
Constantly comparing yourself to others.
I’m a reformed comparator (which sounds like a sharp-fanged dinosaur) and I can attest to the power of making this habit extinct.
In the corporate world, I would too often get caught up comparing myself to others. Was I doing as well as he or she? Was I at the level that they were when they were my age? Am I perceived as well up the chain of command as him/her?
Granted, I worked in a system, like many do, that enveloped me in a comparison culture. My raises and promotions were tied to a system that scored me on how well I was doing compared to others. Beyond this, though, I made comparison an unhelpful part of my routine, even subconsciously at times.
As I began to make the shift into the second season of my professional life (that of an entrepreneur, keynoter, workshopper, author, and coach), I saw with clarity how much this big ugly beast, this Comparison Dragon, had been rearing its ugly head.
And I came to realize the irony of it all — the fact that this Dragon draws its very power from those it preys upon. The more we compare ourselves to others, the bigger the Dragon gets, striking fear into our hearts with increasing ferocity. It feeds our sense of inadequacy and can even move us to inertia.
When we find ourselves subject to someone else’s expectations, we lose sight of our definition of success. We find it more and more difficult to exonerate ourselves from what we think others might be thinking.
It happened to me.
And it’s bad enough that we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, but we’re not even making fair comparisons, at that.
Take social media, for example. When was the last time you were on Facebook and saw someone say, “This week I’m going to share with you proof of what a total loser I am. Here’s a picture of me cleaning out my desk at work because I just got fired. Here’s a picture of my 6-year-old daughter, isn’t she heinous?”
No, of course not. What do we see? “Here’s a picture of me climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. In a storm. At night. Here’s a picture of my 6-year-old daughter on her way to mensa camp!”
The truth is, we tend to compare our blooper reel to everyone else’s highlight reel — and it’s having a real impact.
Here’s the simple, but powerful remedy.
Continually remind yourself that the only comparison that matters is to who you were yesterday.
Are you becoming a better version of yourself, or not?
If you feel cutting off comparisons is going to be a long journey for you, at least realize that your differences from others you discover along the way make you stronger than, not weaker than. Those differences make you, you.
Now, in my entrepreneurial life, I don’t worry about how other professional speakers are doing, or if someone else’s book is selling more than mine or if some other entrepreneur is cranking more annual revenue than I am.
I’m right where I want to be. The happiest I’ve ever been. No comparison.
This story originally appeared on Inc.com