06 Jun

The Poison of Social Comparison

Maybe a less inflammatory title is “Celebrating the Brilliance of Others” though I think both points will be made, herein. Oh wow. I just used “herein.”

Social comparison is one of the BIG THREE crippling mind traps because the need to feel a sense of belonging is powerful. When we approach social comparison from a place of insecurity or unattainability the not so pleasant tool of hypocrisy can be our ally. Humans LOVE to see the faults in others. The hypocrisy we see so easily in the words and more importantly, actions, of others.

I label hypocrisy as poison and our desire to put down others is really just feeding yourself poison and though my diet has room for improvement, I’m not willingly go to feed myself something labelled as poison.

So, Tony Poponi what’s the antidote to social comparison?

Did you just call me Tony Poponi? Tsk tsk.

I’ll answer regardless. Getting to a place of feeling humble pride about yourself so you can celebrate others from a place of wholeness.

Example. At the “Who is Jay” symposium I spoke at last month I was fortunate to see the brilliance of the four individuals through a “This is My Brave” series of performances.  The vulnerable sharing by musician Johnny via his heavy metal band Prison struck a chord. (Pun!) To be honest, I don’t like heavy metal music (sorry Johnny, and I’m sure you don’t care) but his lyrical messages on mental health and his “Cope Notes” texting service are needed.

I can see the celebration of the brilliance of others around me as offered up by friends….

A seasoned drummer named Dave saying: “I don’t even try to play the drum parts in Tool songs.”

And about friends too…my friend Brian is a much better fly fisherman than I am. My friend Chris always crushes my soul (actually my heart, like literally my pulmonary system) on a mountain bike. My “special lady friend” Ann Nonymous is a houseplant wizard, sweet and loving and comfortable in her skin. My buddy Kevin has “arrived” in his mindfulness work and crafts immersive sound bath experiences and now collaborates with other professional musicians. My favorite band, Manchester Orchestra, blends honesty, joy and suffering in their lyrics and complex songwriting.

I can celebrate all of their brilliance because I can celebrate my own.

Comedian Kyle Kinane recently performed in my home of Bend, Oregon and I had front-row couch seating in a tiny venue called the Volcanic Theatre Pub alongside two good friends. What a treat to see Kyle up close in an intimate venue and to share it with my friends! His is a true master at his craft.

I’ve been told I should be a stand-up comedian many times. And told by many others that I’m not that funny (hypocrisy!). For a long time, I’ve yearned to pursue comedy as profession. And then an audience member celebrated my own brilliance with this review:

“The perfect mix of informative and funny! I had the privilege to hear Anthony speak live, and I do not use the term lightly. He is an incredible speaker and blended information from his expertise with humor exquisitely. I loved watching him speak. In personal communication with Anthony, I told him his speaking was like watching a stand-up comedy show – something I do rather often – where I learned something. He spoke on his “Focus on the 40” philosophy. If you’re considering Anthony for your event, stop considering and book him. You won’t regret it.” – Robert H.

So, I am a stand-up comedian after all. I just happen to do through the vehicle of presentations on happiness and I don’t think I’d ever give this thing I do up “just for” the sake of saying I’m a stand-up comedian. Maybe one day I’ll do more than dabble in stand-up but for now I not-so-humbly revel in my own brilliance and the purpose I live out each day through this calling. #humblebrag

I don’t feel this confidence and comfort every day but I’m getting way better at it.

So now, l ask you, faithful reader. What are you doing to celebrate the brilliance of your people at work? Your culture must celebrate others before competition becomes collaboration. It must. And if you need to work on your own wholeness as a group start here.

Anthony Poponi is a happiness expert, energetic professional speaker, workplace consultant and founder of Focus on the 40 programs and resources. He specializes in putting joy in our workplaces and in our communities through workshops and keynotes that leave his audiences buzzing. Being a hard act to follow on stage is always his goal.

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