I find myself frequently falling into a pattern where I compare myself with other people, and this never leads to a positive outcome (I often find myself becoming depressed). The reality is that almost anyone I can think of has something that I don’t have (no matter how trivial), and thinking of it is an inevitable downer. Maybe they have a great marriage and a family, or maybe they have made a lot of money/have a job that seems great. Or maybe other people just like them more for some reason. But, at the end of the day, this way of thinking is always a trap. And here’s why...
First of all, no one’s life is perfect, and there is always something to find fault with. Which is to say that even if I had the same things that they had, I’m sure there would still be something to complain about. Complaining is a coping mechanism that we use to prevent ourselves from moving forward. When we complain, we are actually saying, “This won’t do. I’m going to use it as an excuse to avoid moving forward.” In truth, there is always something to complain about, and the people who succeed focus not on what’s wrong, but on what’s right. People who have found success managed to silence most of the complaints that arose, and moved forward despite them. I haven’t mastered my objections to the point where I can achieve at the level they do, so even if I were magically advanced past my self-imposed barriers, I would instantly be stuck with a new set of challenges.
Second, even if some people have more than I do, the vast majority of people in the world have less than I do. Like probably 1/10 of what I have, or even less. And I know for a fact that many of those people are quite happy with what they have. I’ve been given an obscenely large amount of both talent and luck (not to mention financial resources), and although there are few things in my life to complain about, I still find plenty of opportunities to complain. Whenever something bad happens, I get stuck in those moments, and then when it’s time to be grateful for the good things, I quickly put them out of my mind forever. On the other hand, there are many people in this world who don’t have a lot of good things happen in their lives, but when something positive does happen, they manage to show copious gratitude. Whenever something good happens, I find myself coming up with some way to marginalize that good event. For example, I might obsess about the next deadline. All of this shows that the key to being happy with oneself is not having more, but learning to be happy with what you have.
And a bit more on idealizing other people’s lives. I was recently hanging out with a friend who has a lot of things that I don’t (he’s married, has a family, makes a lot of money at work, just bought a nice house, etc…). But strangely, when we were talking, he actually seemed pretty unhappy, possibly the least content in the whole time I’ve known him. He was the happiest when I met him five years ago and he was a poor entrepreneur. And then it all came together.
The truth is that the most valuable thing you can have is flexibility to do whatever you want with your life. And, if you believe that you have absolutely nothing going for you, then at the very least, you probably have a lot of flexibility (good things take a lot of time and effort to sustain). So you could go out today and do pretty much anything you want (and if not today, then maybe tonight or this weekend). Write a book (or a blog post). Take a trip (or even just walk all the way out to the beach). Start building a new product that you’ve always thought the world needed. Learn a new skill. Take a course online. The possibilities are actually endless. It’s your choice to actually go and seize the day, so start taking advantage of all those possibilities. Because you won’t always have as much flexibility as you have now, and when you don’t, you will romanticize about where you were right now. So what are you waiting for? Go and do it!!!