There was a marine biologist named Paul Sharka. He was fascinated with all things related to the sea but his most profound interest lay with sea animals. One day he was conducting an experiment on just who the best swimmer in the animal kingdom is, and what he found out was incredible…
He did lots of research, checked many scientific journals, and decided to narrow down his competition to 3 animals. The shark, the dolphin, and the octopus. After lots of testing the realization about the winner came to him, although it was very counter-intuitive.
Just for the sake of argument, which of those animals do YOU think is the best swimmer?
So anyway, fast forward to the world global sea animal symposium. Paul is on the stage and is about to reveal the best swimmer.
“So after years of research, all the evidence leaves me with nothing else but to conclude that the best swimmer of the 3 animals is…
…all of them!
Yes, you see, ALL of them are the best swimmers – for the type of body they have. If an octopus tried to swim like a shark, things would go very wrong. Likewise, if a dolphin tried to move like an octopus, it wouldn’t make much sense either. “
Now I made up this story. It’s based on something I discussed with my therapist Jasna and it touches the area of comparison. People are competitive by nature. You might think you are not, but why do you then want the car that rich dude has? Why do you want a body like that singer? Why do you want the new iPhone? We are all competitive, it’s in our nature and it relates to tribes and status and other things.
There is nothing wrong with wanting more success, better things, improving oneself. The problem starts when you compare your individual journey and stage with one of another completely different individual.
You are unique. You have a unique gene pool, and your upbringing was unique as well. Only YOU had your parents, only you have that exact social conditioning, etc. Comparing absolute measures, for example, how fast can you get in shape or how fast can you make X money is bound to make you feel really unhappy.
For example, getting and staying in shape for someone who has been around fitness their whole life is relatively easy. For somebody who never did sports and was obese their entire life, it’s the hardest damn thing in the world.
Sure, take a look around. See what other people are doing, get inspired. But when you compare, only compare to yourself. Are you 1 (tiny) step further than yesterday? Good, well done. Did you fail? Good, well done. Now try again.
The only way to truly fail is to give up and stop trying. The road is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it even harder for yourself by comparing apples to oranges, it makes no sense. Simply being aware of this will help. So will compassion, for yourself and others.
Find this powerful? Tell others. Drop some thoughts.
Agree/disagree? Personal example?