Art has a big place in my life.
How about you?
Just the other day, I was at the gallery, checking out the latest exhibition.
As I wandered through the halls, taking in the amazing artworks, I overheard a mother and her teenage child speaking.
They were discussing what they felt about the artworks on display. It was a pretty intense conversation about the merits of the artwork.
At one point, the mother asked, “Which painting is the best?”.
Now the teenager paused for a minute before replying, “It’s impossible to choose which one is the best. Each painting has its own style. Some are fine in detail, making the work almost photographic.
Others use broader brush strokes. They shift colors differently. The reality is”, she said, “each work evokes a different response and each response is memorable.”
This was a great answer, I thought.
It got me thinking …
People compare themselves to a whole range of things. They compare themselves to others. That usually ends up being an unfavorable comparison, too. It’s either, I’m not that good or a scrambling to identify positive or superior points over the compared.
Often people pick a strong weakness they perceive they have and compare it to someone else who they feel does not have this weakness.
Now, what they usually don’t notice is that this can lead to or exacerbate anxiety, stress, shame and depression.
Comparisons often lead us to these types of scenarios:
I’m not as good as person A (or the average person) in X
I’m not as good as I used to be in X
I’m not as good as I “should be” in X
Or the belief that, by now, at this stage of my life, I should have achieved this or that …
These types of comparisons generate intense emotions. When those emotions are generated, our biology scrambles to remove the “threat”. We either choose to avoid things that could set up negative comparisons or we try too hard to compensate to minimise the pain of these comparisons.
See where this can get you?
Either way, it is reactive behaviour that often takes us away from our true values and needs.
What if we changed our whole paradigm?
Imagine treating it a bit like the woman’s answer to the question, “Which painting is the best?”
Imagine asking, “How exactly do you compare great works of art?”
It’s impossible, I think, to say either Monet, Picasso, Da Vinci or Rembrandt is the best artist. There is, in fact, no “best” here. There are just very fine “works of art”.
Comparisons become largely irrelevant.
Is your life lived using fine, careful brush strokes? Or is it rich in big impressionistic sweeps?
Whatever it is, it’s a unique work of art hanging in the most amazing gallery – the gallery of human history.
That’s a true global treasure and you’re there as part of it.
Make every decision in your life a brave, artistic one.
Forget about comparisons.
Build your life like a unique work of art,
… and be proud.
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