“Men do not desire to be rich, but to be richer than other men.” John Stuart Mill
This simply means that every time you see somebody doing better than you, you feel bad about your own achievements. In 1998, Solnick & Hemenway went to Harvard University’s students and asked the following question: What scenario of salaries would you prefer?
You get $50k, but everyone around you get $25k
You get $100k but everyone around you get $250k.
So, which feels better for you?
Over 50% of the respondents picked up Option #1 which is half than Option #2 just to be feeling that we are doing better than others. This is the kind of thinking that we tend to apply. Always comparing ourselves to others around us and miss out in real terms.
In addition to the above, David Myers said, “Compared with their grandparents, today’s young adults have grown up with much more affluence, slightly less happiness and much greater risk of depression and assorted social pathology… Our becoming much better off over the last four decades had not been accompanied by one iota of increased subjective well-being.”
We as a people are truly experiencing spiritual & emotional hunger in an age of plenty. Once again, this shows that happiness is not in what you have but who you are.
Media and advertising doesn’t help in this as it promotes this social comparison by frequently giving us images of unattainable goals. So, we are exposed on a daily basis to images of few people who have much much more than we do and this blinds us from seeing how well we are doing. This keeps the bar very high leaving us peddling all the time and not getting a chance to savour what we have because we are never going to get at the level of the displayed image of success.
How To Address This Situation and Claim Back Your Peace?
Remember that it was engineered this way. If you’re getting sucked in, it’s because you’re meant to be sucked in. It’s not your fault! Keep that in the back of your mind when you start feeling guilty about how you think you’re stacking up against your peers.
Consider – do you really care about someone else’s vacation, their morning workout or how they’ve packed their kid’s lunch?
As humans, we love to share and connect, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do so! But our social media feeds have let us into the traditionally-private routines of the people we follow. Things we wouldn’t have blinked an eye over years ago have become false barometers for our self-worth.
Compare yourself strategically or not at all.
If you do tend to feel motivated by comparing yourself to others in your sphere, then choose wisely: it’s better to look at someone who might be only a few rungs above you on the ladder, whose success is attainable and inspiring, rather than demotivating.
But the best method of all is to compare ourselves only to ourselves. How are you feeling about your personal development? Your growth? Are you “better” than you used to be? Wiser, happier, making healthier choices for yourself?
At the end of the day, it’s important to identify what matters to you and what makes you happy – and avoid letting social media get in the way!
Now that are equipped and reminded that you deserve you, it’s time that you claim your greatness. #vnnle
Veli Ndaba is a NeuroEngineering Leadership Effect Speaker and Trainer, Brain Coach and Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!) and Newspaper Columnist. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on email@example.com, www.velindaba.com or +27 83 304 9773