“Comparison is the thief of joy”

Happy Monday, Deac families! We’re starting to have a lot of action for the incoming ’23s: registering for classes, and soon they will have their room assignments, etc. A natural consequence of finding out what you get is finding out what other people get.  So today I want to talk about one of my favorite quotes: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

This advice is for all years, by the way, not for the incoming class.

When students play the compare-and-contrast game, there are rarely any winners. It seems to be human nature to believe other people have it better – they are smarter, or in a better residence hall, or they got their ideal schedule, or they have a great romantic partner, or they have a job or internship [and I don’t]. You get the idea.

Social media makes this worse. All you see is people projecting a carefully-curated image of their “perfect” life/vacation/night out/friend group/whatever. You don’t see them on their bad hair day or on the ‘my friends didn’t include me’ day – only the good stuff. And life is messy and complicated. We should show that messiness more, in my humble opinion.

So before the semester starts, let me plant this seed – as shown in this picture – which I hope you might find a way to share with your Deacs in your own way and your own time.

How to be happy: do not compare yourself to other people

And because I was an English major, let me toss a little poetry into the mix too. This is from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and it is one of my favorite things to remind myself of when I start to fret over the imperfections in my life. The bold is mine, for emphasis.

“You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Try to resist the urge to look at the person next to you and wish you had what they have. Instead, see if  you can find gratitude for what you have, and faith that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

— by Betsy Chapman ’92, MA ’94

 

 

 

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