A few years ago, in 2011, I saw Rita Moreno in her one-woman theatre piece, Rita Moreno: Life without Makeup. She was spectacular – singing, and dancing. She was in her early 80s.
Now she is 87 and still performing on the Netflix show, ODAAT (One Day At A Time). In 2011, it did not cross my mind to compare myself with her, but now at 66, I cannot help but feel a twinge of jealousy.
Comparisons Make Us and Break Us
When we were teens, comparison was about who was the most popular or who had a cuter boyfriend. As young parents, we bragged about how early our babies walked or talked. Then it was our careers, or the size of our house, and then what our children were doing with their lives.
It is so easy to compare ourselves to others, so it is natural to compare how we age. We worry about how young we look, and God forbid someone asks us if our husband or sister is one of our children.
We might laugh about it, but these comparisons are damaging. They become an excuse to feel bad about ourselves and become resentful, thinking that others have it so much better.
We Will Always Be Different
There is really no point in comparing ourselves to anyone else. I’ve heard that called “comparing our insides to other people’s outsides.”
Over a lifetime, I believe that everyone has had to face at least one big challenge, whether it is cancer, divorce, problems with our adult children, or a bad turn in our career.
As we well know, in the long-run, who was more popular, which baby walked first, or even career accomplishments shrink from a huge thing into a thing of the past.
For some, our life challenges turn up in wrinkles or grey hair, for others, they are buried deep inside. When you compare yourself with the ‘outside’ of another person, you don’t really know the half of what they have gone through.
Forget Competition, Embrace Shine
My friend Jennifer Abrams directed me onto a way of thinking that turns competition on its head. It’s called the #ShineTheory. The idea that “I don’t shine if you don’t shine” was conceived by Ann Friedman (journalist) and Aminatou Sow (media strategist), cohosts of the podcast “Call Your Girlfriend.”
They invented the #ShineTheory to put the brakes on the tendency for women to be competitive. Their idea is for us to celebrate each other’s successes and good fortune, opposed to feeling the twinges of jealousy that can fester into actual resentment.
Take Competition Out of Aging
The #ShineTheory is also a great way to approach aging. The other day, I noticed that I need to be much more careful when I get up from sitting or get out of the car. As I stand up, I cannot leap into action, but must take a moment to get my body moving, even though I go faithfully to the gym.
I can’t remember my mother getting up like that when she was in her 60s. Aging happens differently to all of us. No point in comparing ourselves to others.
Our attitude is very important, but our bodies truly are changing. And for each of us, it happens a bit differently. For some, it is arthritis in the joints, for others, our hearing is going, and for some, night vision weakens, making driving at night no longer an option.
Part of a positive attitude is accepting our limitations. By applying the #ShineTheory I can be happy that my sister, also in her mid-60s, and her 77-year-old husband annually ride a bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
I can also be happy for my sister-in-law who, in spite of a myriad of health problems, can be found posting her salsa dancing videos on Facebook.
And of course, what’s not to like about Rita Moreno paving the way for new attitudes about aging and beauty? So, Sixty and Me friends, let’s let go of comparisons and shine!
Who do you compare yourself to most often? What feeling does that bring into your heart? Do you think you can switch your attitude from comparison to something more productive? Please share your stories and thoughts below!