“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
Comparing situation A with situation B is a big part of how we make it through the day. Overuse of this often unconscious process, however, can feed anxiety and feelings of being “less than” or “better than” that lead to separation, isolation, and in worst cases, to violence.
Out of fear, we think by sizing up, categorizing, and otherwise pigeonholing people, places and things we keep ourselves safe from harm.
Taking a nonjudgmental stance, both toward others and ourselves is one of the cornerstones of mindfulness. This ability to step back and detach (applying equanimity) is a skill that will decrease anxiety, stress and discontent and increase feelings of connection to the human race.
But taking a nonjudgmental stance is easier said than done, as we humans are so good at judging. We think by sizing up, categorizing, and otherwise pigeonholing people, places and things we keep ourselves safe from harm.
While using “good judgment” can certainly keep us safe from harm, excessive use of judgment that deems us better than or less than creates an artificial wall.
Try this mindfulness practice when you next find yourself among humans:
- Start by taking a few deep breaths, which will help you calm your nervous system and take a neutral stance.
- As you walk down the road or the grocery aisle, note the thoughts that pop into your head. You might mentally register someone as “short,” “tall,” “bald,” “smarter than me,” “better dressed than me,” or “poorer than me.”
- Resist this urge to go on auto-pilot by thoughtlessly labeling your subject. Instead of using one or two descriptive words, try using the phrase “Just like me” as you make your observations. Here are a few examples:
“just like me, this person looks tired.”
“Just like me, this person worries.”
“Just like me, this person can feel joy.”
“Just like me, this person wants to be loved.”
See if this mindfulness experiment helps you to feel less critical and more connected a condition we all share – being human. Connect with mindful hub. Let us know how this exercise works for you.
We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!