The Double-Edged Sword of Comparison: Embracing Our Nature While Fostering Happiness

Shah Mohammed
4 min readMar 24


“Don’t compare yourself to others” is a standard piece of advice that often stems from good intentions. It is believed that by not comparing ourselves to others, we can find greater happiness and contentment in our own lives. However, this advice has drawbacks, as it can lead to unhappiness if not fully understood. In reality, the comparison is an inherent human trait that has played a significant role in our evolution and survival.

Comparison as a Natural Trait:

Throughout human evolution, the comparison has been a vital tool for our survival and progress. Our ancestors relied on it to assess their social standing and learn from others’ successes and failures, leading to adaptation and improvement. This natural tendency to compare is still very much present in our modern lives, driving us to strive for self-improvement, excellence, and success.

In the early stages of human evolution, comparison helped our ancestors to identify threats and opportunities in their environment. By comparing their situation with others in their group, they could identify where resources were scarce and where food or water was abundant, aiding in adaptation and survival.

As humans evolved, comparison continued to play a role in our development. It helped us create social hierarchies and establish social norms, allowing cooperation and collaboration within our communities. The comparison also helped us to develop language and communication skills, as we learned to express ourselves and understand others by comparing our experiences and perspectives.

More recently, the comparison has been a driving force behind scientific and technological advancements. Comparing different ideas and theories has led to discovering new knowledge and innovations that have improved our lives and expanded our understanding of the world.

Aside from its role in human evolution, there are many other reasons why the comparison is a natural trait. For one, it is a fundamental aspect of our cognitive processes. Our brains are wired to compare and contrast information to make sense of the world.

The comparison also helps us make decisions. When we compare options, we weigh the pros and cons and choose the option that best meets our needs. Without comparison, we would struggle to make informed decisions and could make choices that do not align with our goals or values.

Furthermore, the comparison is a social phenomenon that helps us build relationships and navigate social dynamics. It helps us to understand our place in society and to relate to others. Comparison is a way for humans to socialize and form connections with others. We compare ourselves to others to find commonalities and shared interests and to create a sense of belonging.

Another reason comparison is a natural trait is that it helps us gain a sense of identity and individuality. By comparing ourselves to others, we can better understand our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and values and beliefs. This self-awareness can help us to develop a stronger sense of identity and purpose. By comparing ourselves to others with more experience or knowledge in a certain area, we can learn from their successes and failures and grow as individuals. This can help us to develop new skills, improve our performance, and achieve our goals.

The comparison can provide valuable feedback on our own performance. By comparing ourselves to others in similar situations, we can identify areas for improvement and work towards better outcomes.

Furthermore, comparison can be a source of motivation and inspiration. Seeing others achieve great things can inspire us to work harder and strive for success. It can help us set goals and create a roadmap for our own personal growth.

Humans are naturally competitive, and comparison can fuel that competitiveness. It can motivate us to work harder and achieve more than possible.

Therefore, telling people to stop comparing themselves to others is misguided advice because it ignores the fact that comparison is deeply ingrained in our psyche. It is a natural and necessary part of our evolution as a species. Instead of telling people to stop comparing, we should focus on helping them understand why they compare in the first place.

Of course, comparison can also lead to unhappiness, particularly when we constantly compare ourselves to others we perceive to be more successful or happier than us. It can lead to feelings of inferiority or superiority, envy, and a constant need for validation. However, this does not mean we should stop comparing altogether. Instead, we should learn to compare healthily and constructively, using comparison as a tool for growth and progress.

In conclusion, the comparison has been a natural and necessary part of human evolution. It has been a key factor in our success and survival as a species, but it’s important to approach it positively and constructively. Using comparison as a tool for growth and improvement, we can continue to evolve and progress as individuals and as a society.