Last week, I sent the Lab-Rats the following:
As someone who sees the world in patterns, I’m prone to comparisons. Unfortunately when we compare ourselves to others we set ourselves for negative emotions like jealousy, bitterness and despair.
I talked about how I felt I’d missed the blog superstar boat in this post: One of Too Many from January of 2007.
After you read this post, answer the following questions:
- Do you compare yourself to others much? And do you end up in a more or less favourable light?
- How do you avoid generating negative emotions when you see the successes of others who are doing similar things that you’re working towards?
- Daniel Gilbert in Stumbling on Happiness suggests that we would be happier if we followed the advice of people doing the same things we’re doing. How often do you ask for and/or follow that advice?
(Crista excused herself this week for a girls’ weekend in a New York penthouse – a very good excuse!)
So what did the remaining Lab-Rats have to say? Let’s see:
Comparisons: Good or Bad?
Sal’s very much like me. He tends to be hard on himself and sees how poorly he’s doing in comparison to how well others are doing. We’re both also very impatient, thinking that we should take 15 minutes to achieve what others took years to master.
Brett used to be like Sal and me but his many many years of life experience have given him perspective and he now realizes that it’s better to find commonalities than to compare. Given that he’s the same age as me, I’m tempted to compare ourselves and find myself coming up short – how come I haven’t learned this yet? 😉
The Urbane Lion, being the most – ahem – mature of the group has learned how to use comparisons in a good way to boost his confidence and inspire him to new actions.
Negative Ned or Positive Pete?
Again, Sal and I are very similar. We get all Negative Ned then we get active turning the impatience with ourselves into energy to get things done. Brett and the Urbane Lion, on the other hand, recognize everyone’s uniqueness and the futility of comparisons, making the Positive Petes of the group.
Advice: Do You Take It?
Given that being Lab-Rats was a voluntary choice, I’d be surprised if any of the three said that they didn’t ask for nor listen to advice. I, however, tend like to do things on my own unless that advice is offered in a certain way. If it’s done in a comparative or prescriptive way, I get all “you can’t tell me what to do” but if it’s offered as “hey, this helped me, it might help you, too” then I’m properly grateful and figure out how I can apply what I’ve just learned to improve what I’m doing. Brett and the Urbane Lion agree, saying that they reject advice from people who live in a winner-loser mentality (Brett) or if after thinking about the advice if it goes against their system of values (the Lion).
Overall, their answers this week (and every week) made me feel honoured to be working with them. What a truly great bunch of people I have as Lab-Rats! Every single one of them is open, honest about negative moments and willing to learn from others, which in turn means we can all learn from them.
- Comparisons by nature aren’t bad, as long as we don’t react emotionally to them.
- When it comes to advice, the best advice is: take suggestions but alter them to fit who you are.