“If God had not made brown honey, men would think figs far sweeter than they do.” ~Xenophanes
It is in our nature to compare, we use the technique often to make judgements and decisions. We compare prices when we shop, we compare the features of a car or appliance to decide which one will be the best for our use. Because it is an habitual way of thinking, it is often applied to people as well. The problem lies in the myriad of “features” that come with each person, and to weigh one against another is opening oneself to the risk of overlooking traits absent in one or another.
The measure of comparing a human is against one’s own moral beliefs, tastes, interests and peccadilloes. To hold one person up against the other we may develop mis-information, but to evaluate whether a person is an asset to our lives we must observe how they fit one’s way of being. It demands of us that we look more deeply and carefully than we would if we were to say, “he is kinder, she is more generous”. It is the whole and not the sum of the parts of a person that we must come to know.
Being judgemental has the connotation of being unfair, yet relying on judgement to make choices and to discern the value and importance of each factor is vital in making good choices for one’s best interest. Weighing instead against life experience rather than another person, we gain the essence of someone, and the way they might fit with us or that in fact, there are critical elements missing that we recognize we cannot do without.
Remaining mindful that comparisons have their place, and taking care to use them only when necessary, we avoid the distressing and happiness stripping habit of holding up unlike things against each other. To be fully in the moment requires letting go of the past moments and choosing to savor whatever this one has to offer. Developing the ability to stay present, using judgement to make good choices, and comparison for buying a new washing machine, gives us the tools to be kind to ourselves and find our way to the people and moments that will enrich our lives.