On the Importance of Gratitude and Not Comparing Yourself to Others

by Tausha Cowan


How many times have you found yourself stopping to think, really think, about all the things you’re grateful for? If I’m being honest with myself, not nearly enough.

Generally speaking, I am grateful for many things, some of which I’ve written about in this blog (like the ability to travel, of course!), but too often that gratitude gets overshadowed by other thoughts, emotions and comparisons (those sneaky feelings that never lead to any good).

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Over the last several weeks, I’ve been thinking more frequently about comparisons and gratitude, partly for personal reasons and in particular after hearing of the sad and tragic deaths of designer Kate Spade and someone who I greatly admired for many years, Anthony Bourdain.

These were two people who, from the outside, seemingly “had it all.” In fact, I recently watched an old episode of No Reservations in which Anthony Bourdain literally said, “I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” a sentiment he repeated on several occasions. And yet, both him and Kate Spade had their demons and battled with depression, a disorder that we know affects many people no matter who they are or how much they “have it all.”

These are all extremely important things to remember – you are not alone.

The conversations that have arisen since their deaths have mainly centered on reaching out to loved ones, being there for those in need and knowing that, if you have suicidal thoughts or feel depressed, you are not alone. These are all extremely important things to remember – you are not alone.

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It’s also apparent that we never know the battles others fight. It’s easy to forget this in our social media-laden world in which everyone is seemingly living a better life than you. We compare and in that comparison, we fall short. The quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” can so often ring true. And yet, comparisons are also so often at a surface level. We just simply don’t know what others’ lives are truly like.

This is why I’ve been thinking more about gratitude. When we focus on gratitude, it shifts the focus to ourselves, not necessarily in a self-centered way, but rather in a way that forces us to look at our lives and be grateful for what we do have. That could be food on the table, a network of loved ones, a place to sleep or pretty much anything else.

Ultimately, when given the choice to compare or be thankful, I want to choose the latter.

Oxford Dictionaries defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” They also define comparison as “a consideration or estimate of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people.”

Ultimately, when given the choice to compare or be thankful, I want to choose the latter. I don’t always do this, but I should. We need more gratitude in the world and more appreciation for and return of kindness. Yes, that’s a very kumbaya sentiment, but I think we need that in today’s society, now more than ever.

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So, what are you grateful for?

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