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Do You Burn with the Envy of Others?

June 3rd, 2009 by Bob Bly

As it happens, I know a lot of rich people ? a slew of hard-driving individuals whose wealth and accomplishments put the rest of the population to shame.

I?ve also spent a lot of my life ? too much, in fact ? comparing myself to them ? and of course, coming up short.

So I?m not going to do it any more.

And you neither should you.

If you judge yourself only in comparison to others ? who they are, what they have, what they?ve done ? you can always find someone who outperforms you in any given area.

As Max Ehrlich observed in his 1923 essay Desiradata, ?There will always be those both greater and lesser than you.?

We obsess about those who are ?greater? ? and feel bad that we don?t measure up to their success and accomplishments.

Psychologists call this unhealthy obsession ?compare despair.?

So what can you do about it?

To begin with, stop comparing yourself to others ? because unless you?re Bill Gates, there?s always someone who makes more money than you.

Unless you?re George Clooney or Jessica Alba, there?s always someone either more famous ? or better looking ? or both.

So quit worrying about how you stack up against other people.

Instead, figure out what?s important to you ? helping others in need, writing good books or great copy, being a terrific parent, becoming a guru in your industry or market niche, building an Internet marketing business lucrative enough that you can quit your job, or giving your clients a level of service they can?t get anywhere else.

Then, when you know you?ve made the absolute best effort you can in pursuit of these objectives ? take a minute to feel good about yourself.

After all, you deserve it.

P.S. Am I a lone weirdo in the wilderness always comparing myself to those who are richer and more successful than I am? Or do you too ever indulge in “compare despair”?

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13 responses about “Do You Burn with the Envy of Others?”

  1. Sean said:

    I compare myself to others. It’s human nature. You compare yourself to those richer and more successful, and I have compared myself to you Bob in the same manner.

    I think it can be healthy if it forces you to identify what you value (as you mention) and to better articulate personal goals. It becomes unhealthy when, during the process, you lose sight of what you can and cannot control.

  2. bill perry said:

    Bob:
    I think there’s a “Healthy” way to compare yourself to other.

    I am from the NLP school of thought, and I think that the trick is to just look beyond the person and find out what it is ABOUT them you admire so much. See if it’s a truly healthy/useful trait, and if so, work on putting more of that into your life.

    I admire Warren Buffet immensely for his ability to not get mired in the next big thing. He’s pretty much been on the same path, with a bit of flexibility, for years.

    If I could just do that for 6 months or a year, I think my life would change immensely.

    Does that make sense?

  3. Greg said:

    I don’t but then I have never been particularly ambitious — other than to earn a good living. I have never been interested in power or influence over others.

    I do think about things I may have done differently if I had more information at the time I was making decisions or how I may have made a better decision had I thought more clearly at the time. But even with that I don’t pine over it.

    I do envy people who have managed to get to my age and stay thin and fit. I wonder how they do since most people I know were not able to do so.

    I don’t necessarily admire them or am envy but I do wonder about people like Bill Clinton or John Kerry who obviously knew they wanted power and fame at a very early age, before they left high school. Kerry grew up in that milieu but Clinton did not.

  4. Diana said:

    Comparisons are helpful if they teach us something. How else to know what is possible than by learning from others?

    But there’s a difference between comparison and envy. Envy isn’t helpful.

    I like what Bill said–since NLP and critical thought can help us lead better lives. I’ve adopted the phrase “observe and record” when studying my own and other people’s behavior. It helps me focus on learning instead of judging.

  5. Sante said:

    Life is a journey to an unknown destiny. It’s a hike in the mountains with a lot of other people we don’t know but find ourselves traveling with them and we all have a different attitude about this trip: some of us look up at the hills and mountain tops as a challenge wondering what can be seen from up there, others couldn’t care less and take it easy, some will do whatever they can to use you to help themselves … and there is always someone ahead of you.

    I think it is important to enjoy the journey and make a difference to those who surround you.

    I live in a mountainous region of Italy now well know all around the world, in the city of L’Aquila, on APril 6th we were hit by a devastating earthquake that put me and thousands of other families out of house and home – that day my journey suddenly changed as I lost friends and people very very close to me, people who went to bed that SUnday evening and never woke up.

    Now my journey is different, I look upon those who suffer with different eyes, more compassion and understanding, a greater intent to really help and be useful, an even closer working relationship with mu Clients.

    Yesterday I saw a great video – you can find searching for:

    Flawless – Dance Act – Britains Got Talent 2009

    They said a phrase that touched me:

    Chase your DREAM, not your COMPETITION …

    Hope you enjoyed my thoughts and I wish you all a peaceful week end.

  6. passer by said:

    everytime I see my friends or my junior do cool performance, I burn with envy. I can’t help but thinking ‘I want to be as good as them too’. Such thoughts literally make me dizzy. It’s somewhat disturbing. I know I should be motivated, but somehow I’m not.

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  13. Yullion said:

    I remember how I envied my friend who wrote his essay perfectly well, unlike me. Then he admitted to me that he bought it in the Wr1ter service, I did not even know that this could be done.

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