Close this search box.

Spiritual Wellness: Avoid the Comparison Trap

Our Journey to a Healthier You series continues this month with another look at spiritual wellness. We last examined spiritual wellness in our September 2016 issue, and defined it as being connected to something greater than yourself and having a set of values and beliefs that give purpose and meaning to your life, then using those principles to guide your actions.

Finding meaning and purpose in your life and then following through with that is often a lifelong process that evolves and grows based on the life stage you’re in and what’s going on in the world around you. At some point in your life, you may find yourself comparing your accomplishments and abilities to those around you – whether they are siblings, cousins, friends or coworkers. While this behavior is natural, it could take away from your own progress achieving your own goals and living your own life. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy.”

Consider the following scenario: you need a new vehicle and decide to trade in your beat up old car for a shiny new pickup truck. As you proudly pull into your driveway, you notice that your neighbor has a bigger, nicer pickup truck out front. Suddenly, your new purchase doesn’t seem so wonderful. If you hadn’t compared your new vehicle to your neighbor’s, you’d still be on cloud nine.

The same can be said for your overall wellness. Comparing yourself to others has the potential to diminish your own level of happiness and overall health and wellness. What works for one person’s journey toward wellness may not work for you. This principle can be applied to all eight dimensions of wellness we’ve discussed in our Journey to a Healthier You series. The following chart offers two different opportunities to achieve wellness in each dimension. It’s easy to compare one option to another, but the point is that both choices present opportunities for wellness in that dimension.

Wellness Dimension Option One Option Two
Physical Eating three balanced meals a day Eating six small, nutritious meals a day
Social Calling family members for a 5-10 minute check-in every day Having a more in-depth, hour-long Skype chat once a week
Intellectual Being satisfied with a high school diploma/GED Seeking a post-graduate degree
Emotional Exploring your feelings by writing in a journal Working through your troubles by talking to a member of the faith community
Mental Practicing self-care by setting aside 20 minutes a day for a power nap Managing your stress by taking a workout class at the gym
Financial Combining finances with a partner Keeping finances separate from a significant other
Vocational Finding a career that provides work-life balance Climbing the corporate ladder
Spiritual Practicing organized religion Choosing to be agnostic or an atheist


There is no one-size-fits-all approach to wellness because each person is a unique combination of their genetics, lifestyle practices, resources and social connections. One person may enjoy waking up at 5 a.m. on the weekends to run 10 miles. Rather than think “I could never do that,” or “What’s wrong with that person?,” shift your mindset to something like “Good for them, but I’m going to sleep in and then play with my kids in the park later.” Neither option is “right” or “wrong.”

As you think about and improve your own spiritual wellness, do your best to stay in your own lane and keep your eyes on the road ahead in your own life.

[Emily Smith is the Health Promotion Division’s Senior Benefit & Wellness Specialist.]

Recent Lifelines