Tony Wolski

Compare Up vs Compare Down


After months of lockdown, homeschooling, cold-dark-grey-wet UK winter, and not being able to get together with friends, I often find myself comparing up: looking longingly at my friends and family back in Australia living normal lives in the warmth of the summer.

Doing so depresses me, so I have to remind myself to also compare down.

This is an excerpt from The Great Influenza about life in Philadelphia at the peak of the Spanish flu in 1918:

“The corpses had backed up at undertakers, hospital morgues, overflowing into corridors, in the city morgues overflowing into the street. They backed up in homes.

They lay on porches, in closets, in corners of the floor, on beds. Children would sneak away from adults to stare at them, to touch them; a wife would lie next to a dead husband, unwilling to move him or leave him. The corpses, reminders of death and bringers of terror or grief… Their prescence was a constant, a horror demoralizing the city; a horror that could not be escaped.

Things aren’t so bad.

Despite the abnormality we find ourselves in in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, we’re okay. We’re not at risk of dying within 12 hours of catching thie virus like they were back then. We can see and speak to our loved ones over the internet. Our kids can still get an education, even when they can’t go to school.

As Derek Sivers says in Think Like a Bronze Medalist, Not Silver

Comparing up versus comparing down: Your happiness depends on where you’re focusing.

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