Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Anna Shmynets

Dear Reader

I came to America almost five years ago. The difference between everything here and in Ukraine, where I was born and raised, was huge. At first, I felt like I was in a fairy tale: The people are nice and polite, the food is awesome in big portions, and the Utah mountains are incredibly beautiful!

People ask me lots of questions about my country, culture, and traditions. And honestly, many times I have a hard time answering those because my country is not that cool. We are way far behind in everything, compared to America. Even in our culture and traditions. Realizing that is sad, and talking about it is even sadder.

Theodore Roosevelt once wrote: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And I couldn’t agree more. Also, I couldn’t disagree more. According to the 2016 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics1,  the United States admitted a total of 1.18 million legal immigrants (618,000 new arrivals, 565,000 status adjustments) in 2016. There are lots of reasons why people change their country of residence. One of the most popular reasons is better living conditions. A big number of Americans don’t realize that. They don’t appreciate what they have here. The reason is simple—they usually have no real basis for comparison. Most Americans haven’t traveled to many countries.

After I started working for the IAED, I became well aware of the problems in the American health care system. Health care is complicated in most countries, but we can learn from each other. I will share a couple of examples with you to show the difference between Ukraine and America in the medical field including emergency medical dispatch.

Due to a lack of investment and chronic corruption, the health care system in Ukraine has collapsed considerably since the country achieved its independence (1991). The lack of successful health care coverage is worsened by the low pay of Ukrainian doctors (US $140– $280 a month, depending on their area of specialization). According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report2,  in 2018, primary care physicians in the United States earned on average $19,750 per month. Around 70 percent of jobs in the hospital sector in Kyiv (capital of Ukraine) have not been filled.

In many counties of Ukraine, districts or cities have their own emergency medical dispatch centers. They coordinate teams from only their station and typically send teams out only within their area of responsibility. As a result, if accidents take place near the border of a neighboring area, the dispatcher may not be able to get the call. Consequently, the dispatcher may not be able to send ambulances even if they are nearby. In some districts, calls are taken by doctors or untrained nurses. Centralized dispatch centers that take calls and coordinate EMS teams for an entire county exist only in a few regional centers throughout the country.

This list of facts can be long, unfortunately. But again, nothing is perfect. On the one hand, I am sad that things in my country fall short of American standards, which I consider being much better in my humble opinion. On the other hand, my main message is we all often want our life to be better. This is how we set up our goals and dreams. The first step to cultivating gratitude is appreciating those who serve and help you every day including those who don’t get enough sleep or sacrifice their health to help you or those you know. Whether it’s the cleaner in your office, the cashier at the store, or the courier who brings you a package, it’s important to be kind to these people and recognize their service.



  1. “Immigration to the United States.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_the_United_States#:~:text=According%20to%20the%202016%20Yearbook,565k%20status%20adjustments)%20in%202016 (accessed Oct 27, 2021).
  2. “2018 Physician Compensation Report Released.” Physician’s Weekly. 2018; April 12. https://www.physiciansweekly.com/2018-physician-compensation-report-released (accessed Oct. 27, 2021).