In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.
Comparison is all about conformity and competition
At first it seems like conforming and competing are mutually exclusive, but they’re not. When we compare, we want to see who or what is best out of a specific collection of ‘alike things.’
The comparison mandate becomes this crushing paradox of ‘fit in and stand out!’ It’s not cultivate self-acceptance, belonging, and authenticity; it’s be just like everyone else, but better.
It’s easy to see how difficult it is to make time for the important things such as creativity, gratitude, joy, and authenticity when we’re spending enormous amounts of energy conforming and competing. Now I understand why my dear friend Laura Williams always says, ‘Comparison is the thief of happiness.’ I can’t tell you how many times I’m feeling so good about myself and my life and my family, and then in a split second it’s gone because I consciously or unconsciously start comparing myself to other people.
Let me sum up what I’ve learned about creativity from the world of Wholehearted living and loving:
- ‘I’m not very creative’ doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.
- The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity.
- If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. Cook, write, draw, doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild an engine, sculpt, dance, decorate, act, sing–it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.
Letting go of comparison is not a to-do list item
For most of us, it’s something that requires constant awareness. It’s so easy to take our eyes off our path to check out what others are are doing and if they’re ahead or behind us. Creativity, which is the expression of our originality, helps us stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared. And, without comparison, concepts like ahead or behind or best or worst lose their meaning.
Get Deliberate: If creativity is seen as a luxury or something we do when we have spare time, it will never be cultivated. I carve out time every week to take and process photographs, make movies, and do art projects with the kids. When I make creating a priority, everything in my live works better.
Get Inspired: Nothing inspires me more than my friendship with the Lovebombers, a group of artists, writers, and photographers whom I met online and spend a long weekend with every year. I think it’s so important to find and be a part of a community of like-spirited people who share your beliefs about creativity.
Get Going: Take a class. Risk feeling vulnerable and new and imperfect and take a class. There are wonderful online classes if you need more flexibility. Try something that scares you or something you’ve dreamt about trying. You never know where you’ll find your creative inspiration.