There’s one person you should be comparing yourself to every 6 months and it’s not Elon Musk
I had a neighbor back in the Bay Area
He had it all figured out, or at least I thought he did.
Nice girlfriend who he eventually married. Nice house which he eventually remodeled. Founder at one successful startup. Then founder at another. Money in the bank.
He has two beautiful kids and vacations in Hawaii. He’s a wood worker and gardener, and brews his own kombucha. Stays fit through surfing and mountain biking, and he’s really good at both.
You get the idea. He makes the most out of life. He’s good at life. More than that; he excels at it.
New York or LA
If he lived in New York he’d be a successful hedge fund manager with a penthouse loft, overlooking the park. His yoga bodied wife would run a successful non-profit, saving children from something they definitely need saving from.
In LA he’d be a well paid actor/model. On the weekend he’d be recording a solo album and working on his second book, already picked up by well known publishing house.
These people are everywhere. Not just in big cities but living right there next to you.
We’re surrounded by overachievers
Folks that run a 5k, make brunch for the family, and are washing the car by the time you drag your sorry ass out of bed.
There’s nothing wrong with these people, they’re great. They’re making amazing contributions to this world.
Without them we wouldn’t be where we are today. We need these people We just can’t all be them.
How does Elon Musk take his coffee?
Classic example of someone you might be comparing yourself to. I just did. I lost.
By the age of 37 he’d already sold PayPal for $1.5B, founded SpaceX, took over leadership for Tesla, and was chairman of Solar City. He was recently married to the beautiful British actress and director Talulah Riley. They recently divorced but still.
He’s now worth $13B.
What did I do today? I put whole coffee beans into my coffee machine because I forgot to grind them.
It’s not just Elon and my neighbor
It’s not just the uber successful I’m comparing myself to. It’s anyone that has something I want, or has done something I want to do.
The cafe owner with the pretty girlfriend. That well dressed guy walking down the street. The people with better physiques than me at the gym. That woman driving a new Porsche. Everyone who got into the Master’s program I didn’t get into. People with careers and families. Anyone who can meditate for more than 7 minutes at a time.
That woman with the perfect Pigeon pose. How do you even do that without crying?
That guy with the great hair. I have great hair but I want his great hair.
The list goes on. There’s no shortage of people I can be comparing myself to.
Every time I’m comparing myself to someone else, I lose. There’s no way to win this game.
I don’t have what they have, and when I get it, they’ll have more. I haven’t accomplished what they’ve accomplished, and if I ever do, they’ll have accomplished more.
I don’t work as hard, get up as early, workout as much, have as much money, own as much property, or vacation as much as they do. I never will. They’ll always have more.
The list never ends.
“Fuck, I’m late”
Those are my first words in the morning. I work from home and I don’t schedule morning appointments. What am I late for? I don’t know, but it’s gotta be something. Life. I’m late for life.
I don’t wake up thanking the universe for the bounty it’s given me. Not right off the bat. But then I slowly realize that even though I have less than some, I have more than most. If you’re reading this, you have more than most as well.
I’m healthy and active. I have a dog that loves me and a project that I love. I have friends who I see frequently and a family who I speak to often. I live in a beautiful apartment in a beautiful city. I have money to pay my bills and to travel with.
After “Fuck, I’m late” comes a little bit of gratitude. It’s not automatic for me, it’s a practice. A small practice which pays dividends throughout day. A practice that I do every day.
It’s easy. I focus on what have instead of what I don’t. It’s an easy game. Sometimes I write it down, most often I don’t.
Also, I figured out how to win at the comparison game.
Comparing myself to this person is always a win
Me. I compare myself to myself.
I always win.
When I look back over the last 6 months, there’s always been progress. It’s impossible not to.
Either I’ve walked through some fear and come out the other side fine. Took a trip I’ve always wanted to take. Or I’ve learned a new skill I’ve always wanted to learn. Maybe I’ve stopped a habit that I really wanted to stop or had a huge revelation about love. Or made a new friend. Or asked a woman out in French.
More often than not however, it’s all of these things. It’s amazing what you can do in 6 months, even if you’re just a normal human like me.
It’s the little things
I have to focus on the little things in life. Those little improvements add up, and over time they have a meaningful impact on my overall wellbeing and health. It’s the little things, amortized over a lifetime, that are responsible for my happiness.
It’s not the house, the car, or the job that really matters.
It’s my relationships with others. My capacity to love; to love those around me and to love myself. It’s rigorous self-care. It’s time spent outdoors with my dog. Time spent thinking about others instead of thinking about myself. It’s taking every opportunity to learn, grow, and share.
OK, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I don’t mean every opportunity. We’re not trying to solve space travel here. Someone else is already handling that.
It’s also forgiving myself when I fall back into the pattern of comparing myself to others. It happens, it’s inevitable. When it does happen, I have a solution now.
Shaun Galanos is The Love Drive. He lives and writes in Montreal.