Nowadays, striving to keep up with the Joneses is a common practice in modern society. It is known as “social comparison.” People in different ages or groups all have the mentality and behavior of comparing themselves with each other. Moreover, this tendency is becoming increasingly prevalent. On the Internet, I saw an article which stated that in the get-together of the classmates, people now no longer lament for their lost youth or promote their friendship, but rather compare with each other and flaunt their respective wealth. They compare with each other in many aspects, such as their children, husband or wife, house, car, position, etc. In addition, they even compete over their cigarettes, drinks, and clothes. In a word, people compare whatever they have to that of others, whether they are relatives, friends, colleagues or any other relationships. With a heart of: “What I have is better than yours, and above your good one,” everyone lives in the tendency of upward comparison. Even if some people have more knowledge or higher fame, they cannot overcome this kind of cliché thought, for they, without exceptions, compare themselves with others based on knowledge and fame. Living in such an environment, people are miserable indeed, but they have no choice but to follow.
We can fulfill our vanity and save our face by comparing ourselves with others and showing off our wealth. However, behind this, only we ourselves know how many bitters and sorrows we have suffered and tasted within. Just like my cousin, she possesses a car and house, and runs small businesses. She needn’t have to worry about food or clothes. Yet, under the influence of this tendency, to enjoy due respect, she bought new and expensive designer clothes for the gatherings with her classmates every time. Plus the expenses of meals and entertainments, she bore a vast expenditure in one year on these gatherings held at least three or four times every year. Among her friends, she also was unwilling to fall behind them. When seeing a couple, her friends, both wearing minks, without hesitation she bought his-and-hers mink coats, which were a higher level than that of the couple. Though she didn’t have enough cash, she overdrew her credit card to pay more than 30,000 RMB for it. Her child started primary school this year. In order for her child not to fall into contempt, she bought another new car. After doing these, although her business went well, she didn’t make a deposit but rather left a loan of nearly 300,000 RMB. Sometimes, she had to borrow money from others to pay the rents for her shop. This made her lead a stressful lifestyle. Her life is a microcosm of today’s people. It could be said that for the sake of enjoying due respect before others, each of us has a heart of comparing ourselves to others all the time. In fact, in order to save face, most of us pursue others’ exaltation, but behind their back, we endure great hardships and stress. Comparing ourselves with others brings us more and more miseries, and becomes a mental killer of people in modern times.
What Is Comparison Mentality?
An article on the Internet says, “In psychology, comparison is classified as a neutral and a little negative mental characteristic. In more details, when one finds himself inferior to others with whom he compares himself in some respect, he thus grows negative feelings, this mental process is the comparison mentality.” To speak plainly, comparison mentality is caused by our vanity. We always like comparing ourselves with others around us in our hearts, such as our classmates, friends, colleagues, and so on. We want to have the possessions others have, and even long for getting somewhere better and surpassing them. Though some psychologists call for a control of the comparison mentality, who can restrain himself properly in real life? No matter what suggestions the specialists offer, it is of no avail to those with an increasingly stronger tendency to compare themselves to others who have more.
How Does the Comparison Mentality Come Into Being?
Then for what reason are we driven to save our face regardless of whatever pressure we may bear? And how does the comparison mentality come into being? God’s words say, “‘Deception and paralysis’ is that Satan makes up some sweet-sounding statements and ideas that are in concert with people’s conceptions to make it seem as though it is taking people’s flesh into consideration or thinking about their lives and futures, when actually it is just to fool you. It then paralyzes you so that you do not know what is right and what is wrong, so that you unknowingly follow its road and thereby come under its control.” “Is there forceful indoctrination? (Yes.) Forceful indoctrination of what? Is forceful indoctrination done by man’s own choice? Is it done with man’s consent? (No.) It does not matter if you do not consent to it. In your unawareness it pours into you, instilling in you Satan’s thinking, its rules of life and its evil essence. In fact, all that Satan instills in you are lies, specious fallacies and are indeed heresies and fallacies that Satan uses to corrupt man. These satanic poisons are planted in people’s brains and in their minds, and this truly does brainwash people. Once someone has accepted these satanic poisons, they become neither man nor ghost, without one shred of humanity.”
After reading these words, I think of what people often speak, such as “A tree lives with its bark; a man lives with his face,” “A wild goose leaves behind a voice; a man leaves behind a reputation,” “People struggle to go upward, but water flows downward,” “I strive for nothing but wining credit,” and so on. These words make us unknowingly believe: Being higher in social standing or living better than others is the evidence of one having status and dignity. Only living this way can make our life meaningful and valuable. It is precisely these wrong thoughts and viewpoints and rules of living instilled in us by Satan that lead us to compare ourselves with others. No matter who we are with and whatever we encounter, we first take saving our face into account in our words and actions. So, we no longer go after becoming down-to-earth persons; instead, we devote our efforts to saving our face. Thus, we are surrounded by a sham world and controlled by Satan’s poisons and fallacies.
Since being corrupted by Satan, we human beings have been filled with different varieties of satanic dispositions and thoughts, and have had an arrogant satanic nature. As a result, we are unwilling to be a common person, but rather always seek to rank higher than others and like to be out of the ordinary and above all others. Thereby, we compare ourselves with others in everything and always aspire to be the top-notch one among the crowd. When these satanic poisons were planted in our minds and became our life, we began to live for our own vanity, and even paid all the price in order to satisfy it. We never admit defeat, but compete with others for high places in everything. It seems that only in this way can we gain status in society and the admiration of others. I remember once the news said that a high school boy from Anhui Province bought an iPhone by selling his kidney. It was the very vanity that drove him to do the extreme thing. From this, we see that our happy life will turn into an unspeakably miserable one when we are controlled by Satan’s thoughts. Controlled by the comparison mentality, we have no way to lead a happy life at all.
How Can We Set Ourselves Free From the Comparison Mentality?
Then, how can we rid ourselves of the comparison mentality—a psychological killer? God’s words say, “How are these things cast off? Do you have a solution? First, you must see through them, and then you must learn to give up these things and set them aside. If you are always focusing on these things, always struggling for these things, if your heart is fully occupied and filled by these things, if you never want to put them aside and you always harbor them without putting them aside, then you are being controlled by and bound by these things. You have become a slave, and you cannot give them up.” “Because the essence of God is holy, that means that only through God can you walk the bright, right road through life; only through God can you know the meaning of life, only through God can you live out a real life, possess the truth, know the truth, and only through God can you obtain life from the truth. Only God Himself can help you shun evil and deliver you from the harm and control of Satan. Besides God, no one and nothing can save you from the sea of suffering so that you suffer no longer: This is determined by the essence of God.” God’s words show us a clear solution: On the one hand, we need to realize that vainglory is the means with which Satan corrupts and binds people. On the other hand, we should have a thorough understanding of the harm and affliction brought to us by seeking after vanity and glory. After achieving these two aspects, we can be willing to set aside and give up the vainglory. When we are no longer controlled by the vainglory or bound by our vanity, then we will never compare ourselves to others anymore. Once we stop doing that, we can become relaxed and free, and more than half of our life’s pains can be relieved.
And besides that, we also should abandon our previous outlooks on existence and find a new goal of our pursuit. The truth comes from God, and is the reality of all the positive things. Only God possesses the substance of the truth. The truth expressed by God can lead us toward light and justice, and allow us to walk on the right path of life and live a meaningful life. Because the essence of God is holy, what He does upon us is love and salvation, with the purpose that we can live better. When we come before God and obey His sovereignty and arrangements for our fates, then we can free ourselves from the bond of vanity and the painful life. In fact, each of us came to this world with our missions entrusted by the Creator. As long as we live according to the life course destined by God, then we can free ourselves from the control and bonds of Satan, and then live between earth and heaven with freedom and relief, calm and peace. Only by living this way, can we have true happiness to speak of.