From childhood we are invited to compare. Which square is bigger? Which stack of blocks taller? And later which teacher is better, which friend is closer, which boyfriend handsomer, which car cooler, which future brighter, which person more successful—everything is better, worse or the same based on some criteria we hold either consciously or unconsciously.
Don’t get me wrong, having criteria for making life decisions both large and small is important so we don’t go from pillar to post with no clear idea of what we are actually looking for.
As I write this I’m flying back from eight days in Paris. A little “lollipop” of a vacation – leave on a Friday return on Sunday. This was not my first trip to Paris nor my last…. I’ve stayed in cheap student hotels, 5-star luxury hotels, in between hotels and a charming three-floor walk-up. I have eaten in multi-starred restaurants, to street vendors and in many places in between.
Each trip has been unique.
One night Umberto and I went to a cozy little restaurant with windows looking out onto the street. The evening air refreshed the small dining room, which was full of the heavenly smell of olive oil, garlic and meat and near bursting with tables set with bouquets, heavy white napery, wine glasses and silver that reflected the lights.
Because two American women were seated next to us, Umberto and I spoke in Spanish rather than English to give ourselves more privacy. As we paused in our conversation to savor the terrine du canard, it was impossible to not overhear them.
“If the waiter doesn’t bring the menu I’m going to get up and leave.”
“We never had this problem in Madrid.”
“When I was in London, this happened, and I just left.”
And then their food came…
“The escargot we had last week were bigger.”
“These tables are just too close.”
On it went. A litany of comparisons to cities and other countries and meals they had had. Then the time came for the check:
At that point I turned to the woman and said, “Yes it is a bit slow but we’re not in a hurry, and it’s such a beautiful evening.” Once they realized we spoke English, we engaged in one of those conversations that people have when they are both foreigners in the same country.
Given how long they wanted to chat, it was obvious they weren’t in any hurry either and yet they spent energy and indignation on the slowness of receiving the check.
My wise brother-in-law Leopoldo says “Aqui, Ahora – Here, NOW!”
Because we are programmed to compare, there are times when we deprive ourselves of the pleasure of what is here and now, in the present.
Do you find yourself doing this?
We all do.
SHIFT YOUR COMPARISON CONVERSATION
Luckily there’s a quick, fun RX for it. During the next week, try this experiment:
1) Listen for that voice of comparison – my office isn’t as big as his; this proposal isn’t as thorough as the last one I did; my assignment isn’t as interesting as hers. Ask yourself:
- When does it happen most frequently, at home, work, leisure?
- Are there any circumstances that trigger it?
- What do you gain from comparing?
- What do you miss?
- When you hear the voice of comparison start to speak…
- STOP – Ask yourself what in this current situation can I take pleasure in, savor, enjoy, or celebrate in this NOW? What do I gain from enjoying the now?
Let me hear how it goes! In the comment section below, share your experience.
Until next Tuesday. YIPPEE!
PS We hope you can join us at the upcoming Discover Your YIPPEE! Retreat.