Music and the Spoken Word

Comparison Is the Death of Joy - Sunday August 19, 2018

Life can be a roller coaster, with ups and downs, brief moments of calm, and then thrilling, sometimes scary bursts of speed. And what’s interesting about the roller coaster of life is that no two rides are ever the same. So it really does no good to compare our particular ride with someone else’s.

Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, “Comparison is the death of joy.” Comparing our lives, our circumstances, our family and finances to another’s destroys not only joy but peace and contentment. And it’s not even practical: when our roller coaster is in the midst of a death-defying plunge, anyone else’s will seem calm and comfortable—and vice versa! Looking over our shoulder—or above, below, or around us—can leave us either overconfident or empty, discontented, and nervous. There is always someone who seems to have a better life—more money and success, more health and happiness, more friends and fun.

It’s especially a problem with so many picture-perfect selfies filling social media. As one commentator noted, “These pictures of perfection are not only ‘not real,’ but they also prevent us from being and becoming our [best and] most powerful, authentic … selves.”

As is the case for many of us, it took one couple almost a lifetime to figure this out. They came to learn that the endless striving, the endless comparing, was making them miserable. Yes, things could be better for each of them, but they also decided that it was their opportunity and responsibility to make the most of the life they had. Then they continually reminded each other of that decision: Instead of comparing, they counted their blessings. Instead of competing, they simply accepted and appreciated the people around them. Instead of trying to keep up with others, they found ways to serve them and rejoice with them in their successes. They became intentional about not comparing.

They discovered that the roller coaster of life is a little less stressful when, instead of obsessing over the car next to us, we simply hold on and enjoy the ride!
1. In Wu Hung, “Locations of Comparison: Some Personal Observations,” Jas Elsner, ed., Comparativism in Art History (2017), 30.
2. Boyd Matheson, “Strength and Beauty in Our Brokenness,” Deseret News, June 1, 2018,
August 19, 2018
Broadcast Number 4,640

Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

Mack Wilberg

Brian Mathias

Lloyd Newell

Hallelujah Chorus, from Christ on the Mount of Olives
Ludwig van Beethoven

Lead, Kindly Light
John B. Dykes; arr. Mack Wilberg

Joyous Day!
John Leavitt

Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep, from White Christmas
Irving Berlin; arr. Michael Davis

Tonight, from West Side Story
Leonard Bernstein; arr. Sam Cardon

Come, Come, Ye Saints
English folk song; arr. Mack Wilberg