Comparison is a part and parcel of our lives. We compare our achievements with those of our peers. We do so with property, dressing, looks and every god-damn sphere of our materialistic life. Amidst all this insanity comes the sane advice to not compare ourselves with others. After a decent amount of analysis, I am convinced of the futility of comparison, albeit for different reasons. If people avoid comparison because of the discomfiture it causes, that is no reason at all. This reason is akin to blindfolding ourselves to the sun and denying its existence. It only gets worse with flowery phrases like “You are beautiful in your own way” and other sappy, hypocritical crap. Like always, what is attempted here is a logical post-mortem of the activity of comparison.
For comparing two entities, one needs a common basis, a constant reference so to speak. I can compare two numbers on the real line, because I have an origin to do so. The distances/directionalities of these numbers from 0 are compared here. Similarly the potential energy of two falling masses or two reservoirs at different heights is compared from a common ground level. A common reference level is essential for this activity. Coming to people, there is NO such common basis. On the physical side, we are born of different parents-people with different body make-ups; and hence comparison on the physical front makes zilch sense. On the mental front, the impulses that the mind receives are different for different people. The mind is like clay-it’s current state is determined by the previous stress history. Again mind is not a static entity- it waxes and wanes. The very task which I had easily completed a year ago might require all of my mental energies to solve presently. You can Google “The Mozart Effect” – kids exposed to Mozart’s music for a good amount of time have shown considerable increase in their IQ levels. Though the study is far from being conclusive, you get the drift. To compare two people we need to ensure that they receive exactly similar mental training from day one. Even if we do this, we are still helpless with the prenatal fund of knowledge that one is born with – which varies from person to person.
The only thing close to constancy is the same self of mine through all this time; and hence comparing the “I” of today with the “I” of yesterday is the only logical thing to do. Comparison with one’s own self is the only rational option. And what’s more, it doesn't throw you off balance like peer pressure (a direct consequence of comparison) does.
P.S : I do not claim to have arrived this without any comparison activity of my own. It is foolish to expect to learn that the boomerang comes back with out even hurling it.