Tag Archives: advice

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

A few days ago I was browsing the web, and I stumbled onto a cool post (and reminder) by Zen Habits Dot Net. Since all his articles have an uncopyright, I’ll copy and paste it below.

Sometimes it’s good comparing yourself to others, in order to push your own boundaries. If you continually compare yourself to those at your level, then you might fall into the trap of becoming complacent. The problem occurs when you begin to get obsessed with your comparisons to your neighbor, friend or family member. It’s easy to want a bigger house, more money, a faster car and better degree. What’s hard is being happy with what you have, while you strive for more.

If you obsessively compare yourself to those doing better than you, then you can easily fall into unhappiness and/ or depression. It has happened to many others and it can happen to you.

“If you took the strengths of others, and compared them to your weaknesses, how do you think you’d size up? And do you think this would make you feel good?

The funny thing is, this is what most of us do at one time or another — and some of us do pretty often.

It’s a sure-fire recipe for a drop in self-confidence and for unhappiness. It’s also not that useful.

Let’s say I take a look at someone who creates amazing artwork and really top-notch podcasts on their website … and I look at my art and video skills, and realize that I don’t come close to measuring up. In fact, I look pretty pitiful (I’m a lousy drawer and don’t know anything about video).

But wait a minute: it’s not a fair comparison. Just because I don’t measure up doesn’t mean I should get out of the blogging business, or that I should get depressed or jealous or resentful. Instead, if I looked at my strengths — writing useful and honest posts — I can see that I have a lot to offer, a lot to be happy about.

And that’s so important — being able to look at your own strengths, and see your true value. It’s actually one of the keys to success, because without this ability, you will be unmotivated, and won’t believe in yourself.

I wanted to talk about this issue because of an email from a reader recently: 

‘I come from a Tier-2 city of India. I belong to middle class family. My job also such that I can’t meet both my ends, if I get married and start a new family.

The problem is that I have got my teammates, who come from very affluent families. I can’t stop myself comparing my lifestyle with theirs. I know it is not proper to compare myself with them on the basis of what physical possessions they have. I must say that my financial planning is sound enough to take care of my existing family; and I can take care of new family member also, at least for some time even if I lose my current job. But whenever I see or hear them spending so much money after possessions, I start comparing again. How can I stop this habit, without changing jobs?’

This is an excellent question, and a tough one. I think it’s natural to compare ourselves to others, but as the reader noticed, it often makes us unhappy even if we have enough and should be happy with what we have.

My quick advice: try to be aware of when you start comparing yourself to others … once you’ve developed this awareness, try this trick: stop yourself. Tell yourself, “Stop that!” And then start thinking about all the things you DO have, the things you love, the people you have, the blessings that life has given you. Make this a regular practice, and you’ll start to be happier with your life.

The Effects of Social Comparisons
But let’s take a look for a moment at what’s wrong with comparing yourself with others:

  • Like I said, it’s usually an unfair comparison to start with. As a result, you’ll always come off bad if you look at someone’s strengths (including what they have, like houses and cars) and your weaknesses.
  • Even if you compare strength to strength, there will always be those who are better, and those who are worse. Where you are on the ladder of accomplishments or purchases has nothing to do with what you want to do.
  • Even if you do well in comparison with others, you may be artificially inflated from this comparison. It’s a short-lived boost of ego if you win the comparison — easily knocked down.
  • You end up resenting others for doing well, without really knowing the true person. You can see this if you’ve ever resented someone upon first meeting them, and then later realized you got the wrong idea.
  • You might end up talking about your own accomplishments more than is necessary. No one appreciates that.
  • You might criticize someone in public, trying to knock them down, often unfairly.

These aren’t good things. Let’s look at how to stop this phenomenon.

Breaking the Habit of Comparing Yourself With Others
So how do you break this cycle of comparing yourself with others? Here are some tips I’ve found useful:

  • Awareness. Most often we do these social comparisons without realizing we’re doing it. It’s a natural act, I suppose, and as a result it’s something that is done without consciousness. So the solution is to become conscious — bring these thoughts to the forefront of your consciousness by being on the lookout for them. If you focus on these thoughts for a few days, it gets much easier with practice, and soon it’ll be hard not to notice.
  • Stop yourself. Once you realize you’re doing these comparisons, give yourself a pause. Don’t berate yourself or feel bad — just acknowledge the thought, and gently change focus.
  • Count your blessings. A better focus is on what you do have, on what you are already blessed with. Count what you have, not what you don’t. Think about how lucky you are to have what you have, to have the people in your life who care about you, to be alive at all.
  • Focus on your strengths. Instead of looking at your weaknesses, ask yourself what your strengths are. Celebrate them! Be proud of them. Don’t brag, but feel good about them and work on using them to your best advantage.
  • Be OK with imperfection. No one is perfect — intellectually, we all know that, but emotionally we seem to feel bad when we don’t reach perfection. You aren’t perfect and you never will be. I certainly am not, and I’ve learned to be OK with that. Sure, keep trying to improve, but don’t think you’ll ever be the “perfect person”. If you look at it in a different way, that imperfection is what makes you who you are, you already are perfect.
  • Don’t knock others down. Sometimes we try to criticize others just to make ourselves look or feel better. Taking someone else down for your benefit is destructive. It forms an enemy when you could be forming a friend. In the end, that hurts you as well. Instead, try to support others in their success — that will lead to more success on your part.
  • Focus on the journey. Don’t focus on how you rank in comparison to others — life is not a competition. It’s a journey. We are all on a journey, to find something, to become something, to learn, to create. That journey has nothing to do with how well other people are doing, or what they have. It has everything to do with what we want to do, and where we want to go. That’s all you need to worry about.
  • Learn to love enough. If you always want what others have, you will never have enough. You will always want more. That’s an endless cycle, and it will never lead to happiness. No matter how many clothes you buy, no matter how many houses you own (seven, in the case of one famous candidate), no matter how many fancy cars you acquire … you’ll never have enough. Instead, learn to realize that what you have is already enough. If you have shelter over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back, and people who love you, you are blessed. You have enough. Anything you have over and above that — and let’s admit that all of us reading this blog have more than that — is more than enough. Be good with that, and you’ll find contentment.”

How to become a chef and become a writer

After reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, I realized that becoming a chef is not at all what I imagined. It takes a ton of time and involves getting dirty. You have to start from the ground up. I saw some similarities to the process of becoming a writer, or really, any creative job. Anthony Bourdain gives 14 tips on how to become a chef.

Let’s find out how many of those tips are helpful to become a writer, or any other creative job.

1. Be fully committed.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. It’ll be beneficial to make up your mind that writing is what you want to do. If you really don’t want to be a writer, then how will you find time/ energy to read and write all day long, or right after your day job? You probably won’t make the time, or find the energy. You need to really want it.

“Don’t be a fence-sitter or a waffler. If you’re going to be a chef someday, be sure about it, single-minded in your determination to achieve victory at all costs.” -Anthony Bourdain

2. Learn Spanish!

Is this helpful to become a writer? Probably not. Unless, you want to be a Spanish writer or appeal to a Spanish speaking audience.

3. Don’t Steal.

Is this helpful to become a writer? If you interpret this as don’t plagiarize, then yes. It’s not exactly what Anthony Bourdain meant, but if you want to become a writer plagiarizing is a major offense that you want to stay far away from. With all the reading a writer is doing, it’s almost as tempting to plagiarize as it is for a chef to steal from their restaurant.

“In fact, don’t do anything that you couldn’t take a polygraph test over…If you’re a sneak and a liar, however, it will follow you forever. This is a small business; everybody knows everybody else. You will do yourself immeasurable harm.” -Anthony Bourdain

4. Always be on time.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. If you have a writing job, then of course yes. If you have scheduled writing hours set aside daily, do yourself a favor and never skip them. How else do you expect to get better? This tip translates to almost any career.

5. Never make excuses or blame others.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes, of course. Writers have deadlines. If you don’t reach the deadline, then it’s your fault. Admit it and do better next time.

6. Never call in sick.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. Unless, you’re so sick that you can’t move. It is best to try and get your work done. Especially, if you are falling behind on a deadline.

“Except in cases of dismemberment, arterial bleeding, sucking chest wounds or the death of an immediate family member. Granny died? Bury her on your day off.” -Anthony Bourdain

7. Lazy, sloppy and slow are bad.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Hell yeah! Turn in great work. Turn it in ready to be shipped. I’ve edited other writing before, and it sucks when it’s obvious they didn’t even try to correct some of their grammar errors and misspellings. Don’t be a lazy writer. You’ll quickly get labeled as the lazy writer/ person.

“Enterprising, crafty and hyperactive are good.” -Anthony Bourdain

8. Be prepared to witness every variety of human folly and injustice.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. If a writer is making more money than you, and you think you’re better, don’t worry about it. You got to focus on your own target and goals. Don’t get distracted by comparing yourself to others. It’s not healthy nor is it helpful.

“Without it screwing up your head or poisoning your attitude. You will simply have to endure the contradictions and inequalities of this life. ‘Why does that brain-damaged, lazy-assed busboy take home more money than me, the goddamn sous-chef?’ should not be a question that drives you to tears of rage and frustration. It will just be like that sometimes. Accept it.” -Anthony Bourdain

9. Assume the worst. 

Is this helpful to become a writer? I don’t know. This one might be more chef specific since they have to interact with the same people everyday whether they like them or not. Usually, writers have a bit more flexibility throughout the day. This tip is meant for chefs who might not like one of their coworkers. Bourdain is advising to find their company entertaining, and amusing, regardless of how you feel about the person.

10. Try not to lie.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. This is good practice for any line of work. You don’t want people questioning what you say.

“Remember, this is the restaurant business. No matter how bad it is, everybody probably has heard worse. Forgot to place the produce order? Don’t lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Just don’t do it again. Ever.” -Anthony Bourdain

11. Avoid restaurants where the owner’s name is over the door.

Is this helpful to become a writer? No. Unless, you’re writing for a restaurant?

“Avoid restaurants that smell bad. Avoid restaurants with names that will look funny or pathetic on your resume.” -Anthony Bourdain

12. Think about that resume!

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. You should always keep your resume in mind, no matter what line of work you’re in. Your resume will get you your next job.

“How will it look to a chef weeding through a stack of faxes if you’ve never worked in one place longer than six months?” -Anthony Bourdain

13. Read!

Is this helpful to become a writer? Hell yes! You have to read. 24/ 7. Bourdain recommends cookbooks and trade magazines to keep up with the industry trends. While, you don’t have to keep up with trends, you should always be reading the writing of great writers. It will help your writing. Have you ever heard of a musician who doesn’t listen to music?

14. Have a sense of humor about things.

Is this helpful to become a writer? Yes. In writing and life, a sense of humor is required 🙂 .

“You’ll need it.” -Anthony Bourdain

Upgrade your gut feeling

Can you upgrade your gut feeling? Is that even possible?

I think so.

Find the people that you would like to operate more closely to and hangout with them. If you can’t hangout with them, read their books, essays, watch their videos or listen to their podcasts. Do this as much as possible everyday. Even more than you are comfortable with.

Remember what Seth Godin wrote, “Doing the best I can is actually not the same as, ‘doing everything I can.’ When we tell people we’re doing the best we can, we’re actually saying, ‘I’m doing the best I’m comfortable doing.’ As you’ve probably discovered, great work makes us uncomfortable.’ 

You might only be dedicating ten minutes per day to reading, but is that all you can do? You can probably do a lot more. Upgrading your gut feeling is not easy, and it certainly won’t happen anytime soon with a weak effort.

As time passes you’ll begin to notice yourself thinking and acting differently. You’ll say and do things that you’ll recognize from the people that you’re trying to be more similar to. That’s a good thing. That was your goal from the beginning.

Immerse yourself in the world of those that you admire. Poor decision making comes from being immersed in the average. Most people immerse themselves in TV, sitcoms, TV commercials, radio commercials, radio music, Netflix, their complaining coworkers, and their complaining friends. That’s why they think the way they think. You can’t really blame them. Their gut feeling has taken the shape of their influences. If they’re hungry, they reach for the Doritos.

If you decide to upgrade your gut feeling, in terms of health, you’ll know it’s working when you reach for the raw almonds, over the Doritos, when you feel like having a small snack.

You can upgrade your gut feeling in regards to almost anything. There are people already living the way you want to live. All you got to do is find them, listen to them, and begin doing what they advise.

What to do when you’re having a bad day

What do you do when you realize you’re having a bad day? You can call it an off day too. Sometimes you can feel it coming on. Maybe, you’ve been extending yourself too much during the past days or weeks.

Or, sometimes you just wake up and know you’re in the midst of an off day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a full on bad day. You can either be in a slightly agitated mood, or feeling very introverted. Whatever the case is, it happens to all of us. Even the best of the best humans have bad days. It’ll be a little different for everyone, but not a whole lot different.

Here’s what I do when I feel a bad day coming on, or when I’m actually having the said bad/ off day.

1) Stop doing what you need to do, or thought you had to do for the day. Put the to do list aside.

Go to the basics, and do things that make you feel good. Eat your favorite food. Spend hours reading. Go for a walk. Crack open a beer or bottle of wine. Play your favorite sport. Play with your child. Call your sibling or best friend. Watch your favorite show or movie.

Whatever it is for you, allow yourself to do it.

2) Invite someone you trust for lunch, dinner, or a drink. Talk and let it out to someone you trust and know very well.

Someone you can complain to, and won’t feel judged doing it. Don’t invite new friends, acquaintances, or new dates.

Text those who you truly trust. A best friend, parent, significant other, sibling or cousin.

3) Spend the entire day doing number ones. If you still feel off the next day, go ahead and repeat.

Usually a day or two of this will be exactly what you needed 🙂 . Having a bad day is normal, so don’t get over stressed about it.