Home » Book Review » Compare Yourself to Yourself (summary of chapter 4 of “12 Rules for Life” by Dr. Peterson)

Compare Yourself to Yourself (summary of chapter 4 of “12 Rules for Life” by Dr. Peterson)

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“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”
~ Dr. Jordan B Peterson

My blog is on its way to becoming a commentary of my life as it has been affected by Jordan Peterson. His understanding of human nature hits life’s problems right on the head. His solutions are so helpful and his reasoning and wisdom go far deeper than any general self-help book.

In his book, “12 Rules for Life: an antidote to chaos” Peterson writes the above quote and dedicates an entire chapter to it. Of the 12 Rules that Peterson covers (each one full of wisdom and necessity), this is one that has impacted me the most.

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

Your life, your situation, is unique among the billions of people on the planet, and the trillions of lives that have been lived through history. Comparing yourself to others is not only unhelpful, it is simply unreasonable. It is unreasonable, not only because your situation is unique, but because there are so many playing fields, and while someone might surpass you in a few of those playing fields, the probability that they triumph in all playing fields is close to nil.

I’ve joked to myself that there are 3 kinds of people in the world.

a. People I admire and want to be like
b. People I admire in some specific aspects
c. and people that I like, but don’t wish to be like

(I guess it’s funny to me because I like people, and liking every stranger on a regular day is my normal, and that’s funny to me.)

I’m finding that more and more of the people that I had previously placed in category a have been moved to category b, because as I grew to know them better, I learned that not every aspect of their life was admirable or desirable. It’s amazing how almost everyone has weaknesses! And I’ve found that many people who I had placed in category b, with specific aspects that I admire, perhaps fitness or attractiveness, I have now seen what was sacrificed in other areas of their life, things I cannot or will not sacrifice, and so they are now in category c. I like them, but I don’t wish to be like them.

More productive than comparing myself to others is comparing myself to who I was yesterday. I want to be growing. I don’t believe anyone is truly stagnant. If you aren’t growing in character and maturity, you are still growing in age, and that means you are sinking in character as compared to your age and experiences. I always want to be growing in proportion to my age. I want to be a little better than who I was yesterday.

Peterson recommends 3 questions to ask every day.

1. What bothers me about my life? (Or, what needs to change?)
2. Could I do something about that?
3. Would I honestly do something about that?

We are not our own slaves. We must negotiate with ourselves as if we were valued employees; we must make it worth it to ourselves to do said task. If we set too large of a goal — it won’t get done. What can you do today, and what will you do today? What would make it worth it to you to do that? For me, just sitting on Pinterest with a cup of coffee is a great reward. If I reward myself well, pay myself for the work I put in, I’m more likely to keep working. Think: valued employee, not servant.

If the answer is “no” to any of the 3 questions, aim smaller. Once you’ve done this thing, reward yourself whatever you promised yourself. Don’t punish yourself by making yourself do more work.

As you improve, just a little every day, you will inevitably aim higher and higher. By starting small and gaining momentum, you set yourself up for success in greater things.

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

 

With love,
Ellie

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