Theodore Roosevelt once said….

Theodore Roosevelt once said that comparing your work, your life, or anything else will only steal your joy. Why? Because when you think about your situation, you have all the data on what you lack. All your ugly habits, your lack of knowledge, your lack of skill, your fear, etc. But when you compare against someone or something else you only see the good side of their work. You only see their best side. It’s like always seeing someone when they are youthful, well-kept, wearing their best clothes every day instead of seeing them old and tired by the side of the road, on a hot day, when they are wearing jeans and covered with oil from fixing their car. You have an unrealistic view of the other person, but a realistic view of yourself.

Or at least your opinion of a realistic view of yourself.

It makes no sense to hold yourself up against someone else’s definition of greatness. You should only judge yourself based on your own ideals and principles. Leave everything and everyone else out of it. It’s your life so live it. Nobody else can do that for you, nor can you live anyone else’s life. This is very important because otherwise you will be denied your joy.

Joseph Campbell has come up with a principle called THE HERO’S JOURNEY (or The Heroine’s Journey). This is the cycle of personal rising and falling. He concludes that our power to succeed lies within and we tap into it when we learn to venture into the unknown, leave those we would compare ourselves with, and go off to do our work.

The Hero’s journey is often the basic theme of motion pictures, novels, plays and even photographs. And it’s heady stuff. But you don’t need to read all of Campbell’s work to understand where he is going with his thesis. If you focus on YOUR work. If you focus on what YOU think you should do in your heart. If you focus on YOUR calling, versus your competition (or perceived competition) then you will triumph.

It’s been my experience that people who fail, or are unhappy, etc, are people who focus on their opinion of their circumstances, rather than their actual circumstances. There is a difference. Sometimes you can’t change your circumstances, but you can change your opinion. And you can start that process by today, this instant, making an agreement to stop comparing yourself, your life with others. Just do you. That’s the person we’ve been waiting to see in the first place.

Comparison steals joy. Don’t let this happen to you.