Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast. This will be given Aug. 19, 2018.
Life can be a roller coaster, with ups and downs, brief moments of calm, and then thrilling, sometimes scary bursts of speed. And what’s interesting about the roller coaster of life is that no two rides are ever the same. So it really does no good to compare our particular ride with someone else’s.
Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, “Comparison is the death of joy” (see “Locations of Comparison: Some Personal Observations,” by Wu Hung, in "Comparativism in Art History," edited by Jas Elsner (2017)).
Comparing our lives, our circumstances, our family and finances to another’s destroys not only joy but peace and contentment. And it’s not even practical: when our roller coaster is in the midst of a death-defying plunge, anyone else’s will seem calm and comfortable — and vice versa! Looking over our shoulder — or above, below, or around us — can leave us either overconfident or empty, discontented and nervous. There is always someone who seems to have a better life — more money and success, more health and happiness, more friends and fun.
It’s especially a problem with so many picture-perfect selfies filling social media. As one commentator noted, “These pictures of perfection are not only ‘not real,’ but they also prevent us from being and becoming our (best and) most powerful, authentic … selves" (according to Boyd Matheson, “Strength and Beauty in Our Brokenness,” in Deseret News, June 1, 2018).
As is the case for many of us, it took one couple almost a lifetime to figure this out. They came to learn that the endless striving, the endless comparing, was making them miserable. Yes, things could be better for each of them, but they also decided that it was their opportunity and responsibility to make the most of the life they had. Then they continually reminded each other of that decision: Instead of comparing, they counted their blessings. Instead of competing, they simply accepted and appreciated the people around them. Instead of trying to keep up with others, they found ways to serve them and rejoice with them in their successes. They became intentional about not comparing.
They discovered that the roller coaster of life is a little less stressful when, instead of obsessing over the car next to us, we simply hold on and enjoy the ride!
Tuning in …
The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM, ksl.com, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143), mormontabernaclechoir.org and youtube.com/mormontabchoir. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. MST on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org/schedules.