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By comparison

It is hard to resist the temptation of comparison, as it is a means of benchmarking ourselves against our peers’ health, careers, and relationships. It is also easier than ever to gauge how someone else is leading their life by looking at their Instagram feed or Facebook page. Seeing anything from wedding photos to workout pictures can make us jealous.

But the chief role of comparison is to drag us down. Competition is the quickest way to demotivate ourselves.

As social animals, it is natural to identify with a group. The way we deal with such pressure is to emulate each other like lemmings. The way we cope with envy is to copy–to get what everyone else has. And then we wonder why everyone appears to be leading similar lives?


We eat at crowded restaurants. We listen to popular music. We all photograph the Mona Lisa, which meant nothing until it was stolen and benefited from the “cumulative advantage” of buzz. We all click the first result on a Google results page. Our mimetic desire always drives us to emulate others.

Humans practice a herd mentality because we fear being left out. We seek validation, and conformity seems to be the quickest path to achieving it.

So the question becomes one of authentic desire–do we need to do it because others are doing it too? Don’t wait until the day you die to wake up and say; ‘maybe I should have done that a little differently.’

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.