Compared to What?

Recently I was at a contest for Toastmasters International in my home district, District 10.

After the contest, the contest chair brings up all of the contestants and conducts contestant interviews.

Contestant Interviews

This is an interesting way to segue between the end of the contest and the awards, as during the contestant interviews, the chief judge and ballot counter are counting up all of the judge’s ballots and determining the winners of the contest.

The interviews seem to be easy to do, as in order to compete, each contestant fills out a sheet that includes questions like ‘What is your favorite quote?’ and ‘Note some personal accomplishments’.

So the contestants were standing at the front of the room. And I heard something that I’ve been thinking about ever since.

His Favorite Quote

Imagine a man, well dressed, who just gave over a supremely funny speech. The whole room was cracking up.

The contest chair asked him about his answer for his favorite quote. At the last contest that I saw this gentleman, he quoted Coach Bear Bryant from the prayer he used to carry in his wallet (I’ve included the text to that quote at the bottom of this post, as I think it is a great quote as well).

So he explained, that while the Bear Bryant quote is his favorite quote, this is another favorite quote:

Compared to what?

Now, first, the imagery. This man has a fairly heavy southern accent, mainly, Alabama. It has softened from being in Ohio for many years, but it is still clearly audible. Now, hear that again – compared to what?

Compared to What?

The context for this quote is what are you complaining about, or what are you happy about? Well, is it a problem? That all depends on what you compare it to.

Traffic……Compared

Traffic is so hard today, it is so stressful, awful, so much more – but, compared to what?

You are sitting in a good car, maybe even a fancy car.

Compared to the homeless guy down the street? He would love to have even a fraction of what you currently have.

Compared to the lady who has to take 3 buses to get to work, and 4 more to get home? She would cherish the opportunity to be able to drive and be stuck in traffic.

 Health…….Compared

Not feeling so great today? Tired? Achey? Compared to what?

Compared to the man undergoing treatment for cancer? He would cherish the opportunity to only be a little tired, a little achey.

Compared to the woman undergoing surgery? If only she would only feel tired and achey, or a little under the weather.

Finances……..Compared

Want to buy your next toy but can’t quite pay for it yet? Problematic, maybe, but compared to what?

Compared to the family with no money to cover their bills? They would prefer to have enough money just to pay necessities, forget about toys.

Compared to the orphan bride and groom who literally can’t pay for their wedding, let alone their new life together? They would love just a fraction of the largess that many have, to be able to afford things that are literally necessities.

Comparing and Contrasting

I was at a speech once where the speaker described comparisons. Literally everything we do is comparisons. This is how we engage with the world around us. This is normal and okay. But it can be detrimental.

One of the most effective ways we know how to file information in our heads is by comparing it. “This burger is like the burger that I loved at that restaurant, but slightly better – I think their sauce is sweeter.” See the comparisons?

“He is handsome, he kind of looks like Ryan Gosling but with a different nose.” See the comparison?

“She is pretty, she has this whole Julia Roberts thing going for her, but she always wears glasses.” See the comparison?

So much of our life is compare and contrast.

And it is your choice with what to compare.

Comparing and Contrasting for the Better

Yes, you can compare and contrast for the worse.

“Look at how much bigger his house is than mine.”

“Whoa that car is so much nicer than mine.”

“I wish I could afford a vacation like she just took.”

Or you can compare and contrast for the better.

“I am so lucky that I have a car. There are many people who aren’t able to afford even this simple luxury.”

“I am so happy that I have a house to live in. Many can’t afford a house and are stuck in a small apartment, and many more don’t have any home at all!”

“I am grateful that I am able to take time off of work, even if I can’t go anywhere. Many workers are unable to even take time off of work.”

The choice is yours.

A Solution for Complaining

The next time you find yourself thinking negatively, or complaining about something, ask yourself:

Compared to what?


Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s Quote

I am contemplating writing a post on this quote alone, I love it. It really makes you think about what you should be spending your time on. Here it is:

This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good.

What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving something in its place I have traded for it.

I want it to be gain, not loss — good, not evil. Success, not failure, in order that I shall not forget the price I paid for it.

-Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant

Ari Gunzburg

Ari Gunzburg

Ari is a speaker, writer, consultant, motivator, rock climber, cyclist, wilderness liaison, and serial entrepreneur. After a decade of focusing on graphic design and web development, Ari has now put all efforts into helping people by motivational speaking and creating custom wilderness trips. Ari enjoys spending time with his amazing family, long-distance road cycling (including raising money for kids with cancer), rock climbing, yoga, woodworking, reading and expressing creativity.