Comparison Vs. Contentment-Learning to Find My Peace

Welcome  I took my daughter to a public swimming pool yesterday.  Before we went, I prayed.  But probably not for the reasons you may think.  Please join me today as I share what may be my biggest real-life struggle and the words I seek for comfort and wisdom.  And how can we not be content with chocolate, right?  So I have a SUGAR FREE chocolate dessert that is SIMPLE and TASTY.  I’m so glad you came today.  Disclaimer-I may receive compensation for affiliate links and advertising on this blog.  See my terms and disclosure page for further information.

Hooker Falls, North Carolina
Now I have reached a stage in my life where I am actively seeking contentment and peace.

Food For Thought  I cannot think of a time in my life when I was not comparing myself to others.  Ewww, I hate admitting that.  Not only is it a very sad and depressing way to spend my life, but it leads to sinful choices.  Comparison itself doesn’t seem all that sinful, in fact, there are times when I compare for good reason.  I compare prices to get the best deal, compare grocery labels to get the best nutrition, and even compare outfits so I wear the one that’s the best look for me.  But it is not good to spend my time comparing…homes, body types, weight, clothing size, physical abilities, weddings, vacations, work status, social media followers, family photos, accomplishments…I could go on and on about things I compare.  But all of this comparing leads to sin…greed, envy, lust, judgement, pride, criticism, bitterness, hate.  God does not want us to compare our lives with others.  God blesses us in a way that he sees best…we are exactly the way he wants us (1 Corinthians 12:18.)  God wants us to live a life of contentment, thankfulness, and gratitude.  Clearly I have some work to do!

One of the personality quirks that goes with depression is low self-esteem, which leads to a lack of contentment.   A therapist once said the biggest step to improvement was to QUIT COMPARING MYSELF TO OTHERS.  Easier said than done, but an important step nonetheless.  I have found that I must actively seek activities that boost my self-esteem and take care of my mental health so I don’t get as bogged down in comparison.  Letting go of comparison is not just about my mental health, either.  Comparison leads to increased stress, anxiety and poor health because we are constantly trying to “keep up” and there’s always going to be better out there, and by poor health, I mean high blood pressure, insomnia, and exhaustion that can interfere with taking care of my family.  I also want to set a good example for my own child.  I don’t want her to spend a lifetime worrying about being good enough and feeling like she always needs “more” and “better.”  So now I have reached a stage in my life where I am actively seeking contentment and peace.   Learning to live a life of gratitude is a step in the right direction.  In addition to my prayer journal, I also keep a gratitude journal.  Also, when I feel I’m starting to get bogged down in comparing again, I pray.  That prayer before the swimming pool yesterday?  It wasn’t so much about safety, or even patience, but because I know going to the pool is one of my weak areas.  I prayed that I would not spend my afternoon comparing how I looked with other women, of any age or size, and instead focus on having fun with my daughter and enjoy my time swimming, which I love.  And for the most part, I was successful.  I know my prayer helped, because for starters there was less people in general at the pool (less people = less comparing opportunities.)  But I also was more aware of moments when I would start to compare, and reminded myself “I’m not going to do this today.”  So, I make two steps closer to contentment, and I’ll take a step back, but that’s still progress in the right direction!

journals, pens, and photos
Prayer and gratitude journals, pretty pens, and family photos are tools I use to help with contentment.

Seeking a life of contentment doesn’t come easy for a lot of people, but luckily there are some steps we can take in our day to day life that can get us going in the right direction.  Here are some of my activities: (please remember, I am not a mental health care professional and I am not liable for your participation in any of the following activities.)

  1. Start a gratitude journal
  2. Read inspirational stories or self-care books
  3. Limit social media interactions; I even participated in a social media “fast” for 3 months last year.
  4. Limit media influence, such as certain TV shows and fashion magazines; I know one of my weaknesses is home improvement-type shows with the “perfect” houses, decks, and pools
  5. Prayer-God wants to help us fight our battles!
  6. Service-doing good for others takes the focus off of myself
  7. Removing myself from weak situations-I had to do this a lot at work when others would start comparing
  8. Seek time enjoying simple pleasures…hello, bubble bath by candlelight, I feel so spoiled and luxurious!
  9. Establish attainable goals; I can’t have “her” body, but I can exercise 4-5 days per week so that I can make my own body better!
  10. Have a “no complaining day;” a lot of my complaints are really just more comparison (“Did you know they went on another big, expensive vacation!?!”)

Today’s Scriptures  I will tell you, almost daily, in this blog that when there is an area I struggle with, I spend time studying God’s word to seek His wisdom and advice.  I can give you a list of little exercises to do to help with contentment or tell you my little stories, but the best words of wisdom you will ever get are straight from God’s Word.  Here are a few verses to get you started today.

Philippians 4:12-13; 19  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

1 Samuel 16:7  “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Matthew 6:25  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and body more important than clothes?”

Today’s Recipe  The faith-family-food house loves dessert!  Unfortunately, this house also has a lot of dietary needs due to health, so we have to have some control with our desserts.  Since it can’t be cake and brownies all the time, we know some healthy evening snacks too.  There’s yogurt, popcorn, apples with peanut butter, graham crackers, jello, nuts, etc.  Today, we will find dessert contentment with Sugar-free Chocolate and Cream Pudding Parfaits.

Sugar Free Chocolate and Cream Parfaits
Using skim milk, sugar free pudding, and sugar free whipped topping makes this a healthier indulgence.

Sugar-free Chocolate and Cream Pudding Parfaits (makes 3 substantial desserts)

  • 2 1.4 oz boxes of sugar free instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 cups cold skim milk
  • 1 container sugar free Cool Whip
  • 2 chocolate wafer cookies, halved

In one bowl, whisk 1 box of pudding with 2 cups milk; set aside to firm up a bit.  In second bowl, whisk 1 box of pudding with 1 cup milk.  Fold in 1 cup of cool whip; it will be stiff like chocolate mousse.  Using 3 clear parfait glasses (or wine goblets or other pretty stemware), spoon abut 1/4 cup of chocolate pudding into the bottom of each glass.  Let stand for five minutes.  Divide the chocolate mousse mixture between each of the three glasses.  Top mousse layer with 2 tablespoons of Cool Whip.  Divide remaining chocolate pudding between each glass.  Garnish with half of a chocolate cookie wafer.  The family feels fancy eating their healthier dessert option!

The following links were verified on 7/19/17 at 1:50 CDT