Lojong Sunday, Week 10: Don’t Ponder Others

A fairly simple slogan that can also be stated as: Don’t compare yourself to others. When we compare ourselves to others, we do one of two things. Either we focus on their flaws until they are completely out of all proportion, which makes us feel better about our own flaws, or we believe that they really “have it together” while we do not, which makes us feel unworthy. Either way we are giving power to others that they don’t possess and did not ask for, and we are assuming things about them and about ourselves.

When we focus on the flaws we see in others, we usually talk about it to others, which becomes spreading gossip. We can spend all day discussing and speculating on the motives of others and their actions or things they say. This is a colossal waste of our time and energy as well as doing a disservice to the person we are talking about, because we don’t actually know what is going on with them. We’re merely telling stories to ourselves and to others. In yogic terms this violates the yama of Satya, or truthfulness, because even if the things we say are true, we are not using our speech to elevate those who listen to us. Instead we are using it to hurt another or tear them down. Not cool.

When we ponder others and feel that they have their lives in order in a way that we do not, we do a disservice to them as well as to ourselves. Social media especially makes it easy to do this, because, face it, social media is all about pondering others. There is teaching and a lot of support that takes place on social media, especially in a community like the IG yoga community. But we still can sometimes find ourselves thinking “wow, I wish I could make vegetarian meals like that, but I don’t have the time” or “I wish my (insert yoga pose here) looked like hers” or “I wish I could draw like him.” If we are honest, we realize that we have our own gifts to share, and that we don’t need to do X, Y, or Z activity like another in order to enjoy it and learn from it, which makes it a valid experience regardless of how “good” we are at it.

Love others, admire others, learn from others, but don’t bring the duality of comparison into the relationship. There is no more than or less than.