Comparison is the Stealer of Joy
And I am the stealer of this quote from an article on mantras for happiness!
Many of us measure our happiness from our surroundings -- the things, environment, and people around us. The neighbor just got a Mercedes or is trading up to a big house. Your cousin is on a month long European vacation. That guy at work you don't like just got promoted.
We live in world where it is too easy to make comparisons -- Zillow, Linkedin, Facebook. There will always be people who do better than you. When people who are not as smart as you, do better than you, it's like putting salt in the wound.
Back in 1999 one of my co-workers surprised us by abruptly resigning. Nothing was happening for him and he wanted to go someplace else. I got promoted before he did, even though he had been there five years longer. He was a nice guy, but no superstar. Today he is President of one of his company's subsidiaries. He made $1.1 million last year. He has millions in stock options. He will have a retirement income of over $250,000 per year before he's even 60. My immediate reaction when I saw this in a proxy statement was shock.
He hit the career lottery. Often we see people do really well in the corporate world who don't seem to be that impressive. If you obsess on these instances it will overwhelm you. I don't care about other peoples' houses, cars or vacations. I am, however, competitive about careers. Of course as a gay man I would like to have a bigger dick and a better body, but I'm over that.
Ok, so this guy is in the top 0.5%. I don't know exactly where I am, but probably in the top 3%. And that's just in the US. Considering the whole world, I'm better off than that. I am very fortunate. In this world probably 99 people out of 100 would trade places with me purely on an economic basis. I could have been born in North Korea or Myanmar, and had - from the perspective of my life today - a miserable life.
Ross mentioned to me that his bf seems to be really bothered when he reads about his business school classmates who are doing so well. He went to a top 5 business school packed with overachievers. I guess I'm not the only one who has these feelings.
This blog is about finding happiness. My perspective on life has changed. Every time I see one of the instances I described above, I think about how fortunate I am. Being in the top 0.5% instead of the top 3% or even top 50% doesn't mean you are any happier.