How looking for the similarities rather than the differences changed my life

We all do it. We all compare ourselves to other people.

We compare ourselves to our friends, our enemies, our neighbors, strangers on the street, and celebrities that we will never know personally. In some cases we feel “superior to” and in other cases we feel “less than” — neither view is particularly healthy.

Our subjective understanding of ourselves is deeply rooted in our understanding of how we fit in (or don’t) to this world. We come to this understanding by comparing ourselves to others. In early years, this is how we learn to become social animals. It’s how we learn to make friends.

I am constantly amazed that my son so easily makes friends when he meets other children his age. I am sure he compares himself to them, but it doesn’t seem to matter. He quickly finds the commonalities and joins in in the fun. Those commonalities may be as specific as the love of Legos or as simple as the mere fact that they are kids and not adults.

I have vague recollections of being able to do this myself when I was young. But somewhere along the line I lost the ability to quickly identify similarities and began to focus on the differences. Continue reading