Some time ago, one of my friends on the social network Facebook tried to pay me a compliment by writing to me 'you are one of the most unique people I have ever met'. My immediate reaction was to point out to my well-meaning friend that the phrase 'most unique' is an oxymoron. The two words do not make sense together. Unique means incomparable and most requires a comparison.
My friend countered with the charge that I was being unnecessarily pedantic about words as usual.
But I think that an immediate understanding of this is something that can greatly contribute to a lasting sense of happiness and well-being. Our minds have a very strong tendency to compare and judge. Not least, we compare ourselves continually with other people, with our younger 'selves', with standards prescribed by society, media, peer groups and religions. We boost our fragile egos by finding people who we consider we are 'better than' in one way or another, only to have them deflated again when we come across another person who we consider 'better than' us.
This is an endless and unresolvable cycle of superiority / inferiority. We are constantly on a ladder, but the ladder has no end, and so we are never satisfied with the rung we are on. We strive to make ourselves 'better', to 'keep up with the Joneses. But even if we keep up with the Joneses, there are the Smiths and the Browns still a few rungs above.
How does one get off the ladder? How does one break free of the futility of the climb and the constant cycle of false pride and envy?
One simply realises that comparison does not make sense, because every person is unique. Understand that you are unique, not only unique with regard to other people, but unique with regard to your younger self. You are an entirely different person at 40 from the person you were at 25. You are not even the same person now that you were last week. Comparison makes no sense.
It is like trying to compare an elephant with a giraffe to see which one is better. Neither is better. They are unique animals. You would not berate a giraffe for not being more elephant-like. But you berate your unique self for not being more like some other unique, incomparable individual.
You are unique. You are the very best [insert your name here] that you can possibly be at this point in time. There is nothing to fix. You do not need to improve. You do not need to work on yourself.
Just accept and love the wonderful, unique person that you are right now. Step off the ladder. Relax and enjoy.
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