13 Apr 6. Don’t Compare
This is numer 6 of my 10 commandments. To read the full list click here.
One of the biggest “issues” I have today is choosing between two options; should I do A or should I do B? In my mind I try my best to compare them to each other and the option to choose is made into a problem, because I want to make sure I use the best or the right way to compare. Even though I may actually like both A and B, the whole thing is becoming a problem instead of a win-win. This is because I cannot stop comparing them. Otherwise I would just quickly see; “Ok, two good things. My intuition tells me B this time – let’s go with that”. No comparison, no head ache, no loosing energy, everything evolving. Maybe I will even have time to do A after B since I did not spend two hours worrying about which choice that is the best… 😀
I also know I have a bit of a Mr Know It All inside of me, in Sweden (and Germany) we call it Besser-Wisser. As a kid I probably annoyed the hell out of teachers and peers with my constant corrections and comments. I have learnt that a big part of this is the obsession to compare, it is almost a disease of the mind. Even though I may know that it is actually more snow in Switzerland than in Sweden when my friend is talking about skiing in Sweden, or I know that the weather is usually better in Spain than it is in Italy when he is talking about a beautiful day in Italy – do I still have to compare every time and in that reject what my friend said?
Have you noticed when you are telling something to a friend how quickly they start comparing it to something they have heard, seen or done? It is almost as if they only listened to find something to compare with. In this we are not really listening.
Have you ever heard the expression ”everything before But is bullshit”? I think it is very true. If you have been talking for two minutes about how beautiful Barcelona is and then I say; “But the ice cream is the best thing about Barcelona”. I just discarded everything you said about Barcelona with my But, where I am Comparing what you said about Barcelona to the ice cream I like. Nowadays I am trying my best to use the word “And” instead of “But” in those situation. ”Yes, And the ice cream in Barcelona is the best”. See the difference? Instead of Comparing and making your story about Barcelona smaller I am simply Adding another fact, by using And instead of But. Try it out for yourself, maybe your friends will like you more. 😉
I just realized while writing this: I like being alone And I like being with friends. Being alone is peaceful And being with friends is fun. They complement each other, but if I compare them by using the word But instead of And I have all of a sudden said that being alone is not fun and being with friends is not peaceful. A slight difference, but in my opinion a stupid one.
All thoughts starting with “But”, “I wish…”, “things should / shouldn’t…”, “that is right / wrong” are all based on a comparing mind and a comparing mind is never seeing things as they are. An imaginary situation is used as comparison and the imagination is generally what the mind is seeking. Why compare the food you are eating? All there is to experience is in the dish in front of you, any thinking about something else will take you away from the possibility to enjoy it fully.
But… The mind loves to compare. Sometimes comparisons are useful, for instance a company may have to choose whether to enter the Chinese or the American market first with their product, so they will compare the two options and then decide. This is just practical and limited to the world of business. But there is so much unnecessary comparison going on and on, just to have something to think about. “Surfing is more exciting than skiing.” Now you have to start giving reasons why surfing is nicer, like less equipment, better weather, the water is moving and the mountain is not. What is the point of this comparing, aren’t they two different things?
There seems to be a deep reason for this obsession of comparing inherent in the mind. The mind needs to be active, so the mind is “minding”. We don’t know the bliss of a silent mind. Master J. Krishnamurti talked a lot about the “Comparative Mind”. The mind and the person we think we are does not really exist on its own and needs something else to reflect it, to compare itself to. He has said:
We only know ourselves when we compare. At least we think we do. But comparison prevents the understanding of the thing as it is. Because, when I compare, I want to change what is into something that it is not. And is not the desire to change what is into something which is not an utter waste of energy and time, and is it not an escape? Can I, without comparison, see what is? Is it possible to look at what I am without comparative knowledge? Please follow this. When I say I am greedy, is that not itself comparative? […] Because my mind is comparative, when the mind says, “I must not be greedy,” which is the condemning, that very condemnation creates a comparative state. It strengthens the comparative state. Is it possible for me to look at greed which is the product of the ‘more’, which is the result of the ‘more’, which is the desire for the ‘more’, without comparison? And is that not the only way to free the mind from all greed?
Before I used to compare myself to others all the time and quite often I felt I was not good enough. I looked at men in the street comparing if they were taller or shorter than me, creating an unnecessary complex for my length. Or when I was working as a management consultant I sometimes worried if I was smart enough for my job, comparing with some imaginary level of intelligence. This comparing is so common I don’t think we can drop it overnight. But I try to stop whenever I catch myself in the middle of a comparison. It is such a relief to just drop it! What I am left with is the unreflected reality, now appreciated instead of reduced to a mental concept for comparison.