Despite abundant warnings that we shouldn’t measure ourselves against others, most of us still do. But the problem with social comparison is that it often backfires. When comparing ourselves to someone who’s doing better than we are, we often feel inadequate for not doing as well.
What causes social comparison not to divide us but to drive us? According to recent research, the trick may lie in comparing ourselves to people with whom we personally identify and who followed a path to success we believe we can follow ourselves. Also important is our conviction that the people with whom we compare ourselves succeeded not because of some special ability, position, or luck but because of their own efforts.
In fact, effort is such an important issue that even negative role models can inspire and motivate us if we believe they failed because they didn’t work hard enough. So not only can the strict dieter who exercised three times a week and lost a hundred pounds bolster our motivation and enthusiasm, so can the couch potato who’s remained stuck, due to a lack of effort, at the same weight for years.
Excerpted from the article:
Persistence, Persistence, Persistence
by Alex Lickerman M.D.
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