This post was written by Leo Babauta, originally for Zen Habits. Republished here with permission.
I love reading about other people’s work setups, I really do. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. I’ll read about another blogger’s computer setup, or what kind of notebook and pen he or she uses, or how he or she works standing up or on a treadmill or while doing handstand pushups and growing a vegetable garden. And when I read about some cool setup someone else has, some cool new way of working, I inevitably want to try it. Here’s how to avoid the comparison trap.
How to Avoid the Comparison Trap
You’ve probably done this too. You might read a review of some new software that will help you create, or a new fashion style or some cool shoes or beautiful furniture or the newest iPad, or the latest iPhone app. Or maybe you’re a minimalist and read someone’s barefoot running article, or how they’re living out of a backpack, and want to try that.
It’s a trap.
We’re endlessly looking at how others do things, for inspiration and ideas … but we end up wanting to try those things too. That sounds harmless until you realize that you’ll keep buying material things with the promise of having an Instagram-perfect life. You’ll live a life of an endless series of purchases because of what other people are doing. And it never ends.
Even if you don’t buy stuff, you’ll change your life endlessly, based on what others are doing. You’ll give up your couch, you’ll stop buying Ikea furniture, then give up your cell phone, then give up your computer, then start doing yoga, then become a Zen monk, then create a tech startup. Those things are amazing, sure … but when does it ever end?
When do we ever feel content with the life we’re living?
If you look to the lives of others,
you’ll always find yourself lacking.
Look instead at what you have,
and be grateful.
Reduce your needs,
and be content.
And your life of striving
for perfection, for the future,
will become a life of balance,
of the moment, of inner peace.