Comparison is the Thief of Joy

20 Jul

I don’t know if there’s one source for that motto, nor the story behind it coming to be tattooed on the shoulder of Karin Bergquist (the incredibly talented woman who makes up a large part of one of my favorite bands, Over the Rhine). But, this statement certainly has given me plenty to think about lately: “Comparison is the thief of joy.“*

How true…

Maybe it’s a material possession (like a car or house). Maybe it’s a personal trait (like being able to sing well, or being creative, or being able to get the job done best). Maybe it’s even a healthy pride over a meaningful accomplishment. Maybe it’s something else… but in any case, when I compare, I rob myself of joy.

What I like about this is that it doesn’t place blame on “somebody somewhere.” No, the blame is on me. It’s not the person with the nicer house, nor the person with the nicer singing voice, nor the person who achieved more who steals my joy… it’s my own act of comparing that does me in.

Have you seen comparison being the thief of joy in your own life?

(You may need to click on this picture to see a larger version in order to read what I’m referring to.)

*Interestingly, Bud Royer, who is notably a reliable source when it comes to pie-making attributes this quotation to someone named Dwight Edwards on the website for Royer’s Round Top Cafe. Proving, if nothing else, that you can always find ways that your favorite things are related. In this case: amazing music & amazing food. I haven’t looked up who Dwight Edwards is, nor if he originated this statement.

Oh… and OTR had shirts with this statement for sale when I saw them recently, but said shirts are not available at their online store.


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  1. Bruce White

    July 20, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Over the years, I have compared myself to many people. That might be those that I thought were great professors, speakers and preachers that motivated me, and others.

    I was reflecting on some promises lately:

    I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

    And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

    Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

    I KNOW that I don’t need to compare myself with anybody – and I pray that God can help keep me from making those comparison!!!

  2. Roger Revell

    February 20, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Theodore Roosevelt is the source for the quotation, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

    • Becky Laswell

      February 20, 2014 at 10:00 am

      I’ve seen Roosevelt attributed as the source of the quotation as well — but haven’t seen anybody document if it originally came from him or not.

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