The comparison mentality may just be the new mental plague.
Raise your hand if you ever find yourself jealous of an object you don’t have.
Is that jealousy augmented when an acquaintance, friend, or family member has that object and you don’t?
Ah, envy. One of the seven deadly sins. But is it so deadly after all?
There are many different lenses through which to look at jealousy, envy, comparison, or whatever else you may call it. But one thing is certain: It’s not helping anyone.
There is a vast ocean between envy and healthy motivation. When jealousy is your key motivator, the odds are really stacked against you on your path to success. One reason being: when you talk to others about your dream, not a soul will be inspired to take action by hearing you say “I am doing this because my friend has an iPhone X and I only have the 6S.”
Clayton Christensen is a prominent professor, researcher, and writer. He begs the question in his book’s title: “How Will You Measure Your Life?” How can I measure my life in the first place if I am spending my time measuring Bob’s life?
Sticking with Dr. Clayton Christensen, he also contests that when it comes to self help and motivation, there are no easy fixes. There are no cold hard facts. So I won’t provide any of those.
Instead, I will follow his recommendation to study out theory in-depth and test it out.
Here are several theories about envious people and the continuous comparison mentality that is socially rampant today.
COMPARISON ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING FOR EITHER PARTY
It is completely normal to feel competitive and motivated to succeed. That is where we get our edge to push ourselves. Competition is not what is wrong with the equation. It is in the comparisons with others that we do a drastic disservice to ourselves.
Take, for example, a woman that leaves her house each morning at 6 am to drive to her place of employment. Every day, without fail, she exits the front door and is immediately greeted by her neighbor to the left.
His lawn is emerald green and trimmed. There are 3 brand new cars in the driveway, each one more advanced and sleek than the next.
The woman greets her neighbor in return, while silently demeaning him in her head and thinking that if she just had one of those new cars, she would be happy.
This type of comparison happens constantly in our lives.
Is the woman’s neighbor going to reciprocate that jealousy, and think about how he wished he has all that the woman had? Probably not.
Now, is this woman going to feel any better about her situation because she wishes she had something different? Absolutely not.
So who on earth is benefitting from this transaction?
Comparisons with others are a fool’s errand. The comparer never resolves any issues with their own life as a result of it, and the comparee doesn’t think twice or even give the comparer the satisfaction of returned envy.
Every human being is on a different trajectory
Do you want the same things as your brother or sister? As your parents? As your friends?
Your end goals may be similar or in the same realm, but there is a 0% chance that your objectives align perfectly with another human being’s.
Isn’t the basis of comparison that there is a common control or foundation present between two variables? And that any analysis can determine any differences that may exist past that foundation and identify other characteristics?
If I compare myself to my wife, as similar as we may be, can any real data be extracted from that? Of course not.
My goals and her goals are similar, but our foundations are slightly different and thus we are ineligible from true comparison.
So why do we still do it? Why do I compare myself to Tim Ferris even though he is a multi-millionaire and I have a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta?
If I compare myself to Tim Ferris, I will undoubtedly fall into a depressed state of “woe is me,” because I have yet to accomplish what he has. But just because he has accomplished something does not at all mean that I can’t do the same.
Success is not a zero-sum game
To simplify what this means, most of the world has a mindset that if person “x,” who shares many similarities with me, makes a lot of money in my same field, then there must now be less room at the top for me.
It is easy to process information this way, as person “x” will be taking some of the market, money, and clients away from me. But does that really mean that I have missed out?
Consider a fictional parable with me, if you will.
Tim was once up for a promotion as manager. He felt he had better managerial skills and could communicate effectively, which is what the new manager needed to have.
Another employee named Brittney also went for the promotion, and she held different traits. She was more relaxed and had more experience with the company.
The two interviewed with upper management, and a decision was made to go with Brittney. Tim was flabbergasted as he felt he was the clear answer for the job.
How would you react if you were Tim?
This situation may appear to be a zero-sum game: Brittney got the job and a raise, Tim got neither of those things. However, this is all about something more than just titles and money.
Our attitude shapes whether or not this is a negative or a positive experience for us going forward.
I have experienced similar situations in the past where I was passed on for a promotion, and in the moment it seemed devastating. It certainly seemed like another person had won at my expense. But looking back, if I had received certain positions, I would likely still be there because stability and comfort is hard to pass up on.
I may not have pushed myself to improve and be ready for the next opportunity; I might have been content staying the same.
All experiences give us a choice: do we compare with others and choose to be negative if success doesn’t come immediately as we want it, or do we accept our faults, our weaknesses, our strengths, and encourage ourselves and others to keep reaching toward our specific goals?
Why can’t we just be happy for one another?
This is ultimately the question I most want answers for. If all of these theories regarding jealousy and comparisons are remotely true, then why do I want my peers to do worse than me?
My life will not be dampened or ruined by seeing my friends succeed. The chances are that their success will be in a completely different stratosphere than mine.
I have friends that are artists, musicians, teachers, marketers, managers, inventors, writers, you name it.
If my artist friend paints the next Mona Lisa, is my life over? I sure hope not. That would be illogical.
All of this toxic comparison is illogical. And it produces nothing for any party involved.
That all said, I hope that everyone who read this all the way through will become a billionaire.