Peterson on Comparison

I just finished re-reading Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. I read slowly—managing maybe 10 pages per day. Speed wasn’t the goal. I wanted to digest as much as I could. I probably underlined and highlighted passages on half of the pages.

I found something valuable in each rule, but my favorites were “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today” and “Be precise in your speech.” In the rule on comparison, Peterson had this fantastic quote that I immediately sent to a few friends:

When the internal critic puts you down using such comparisons, here’s how it operates: First, it selects a single, arbitrary domain of comparison (fame, maybe, or power). Then it acts as if that domain is he only one that is relevant. Then it contrasts you unfavorably with someone truly stellar, within that domain. It can take that final step even further, using the unbridgeable gap between you and its target of comparison as evidence for the fundamental injustice of life. That way your motivation to do anything at all can be most effectively undermined.

12 Rules for Life, p. 89

Remember, “comparison is the thief of joy.”