“If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.” Charles-Louis de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
If there was no one else around to compare ourselves to, we would all be happier than we are. But none of us live in a vacuum. There are others around and seeing them happy makes some of us miserable.
“There must be a reason why they’re happier than we are,” we think to ourselves. Those people have a better life than we do is what most of us come back with. They have more than us. Their car is nicer or house is better decorated and so on. We think that it’s what they have that’s making them happier than us.
The trouble is, those other people look at us the same way, they think the same thing, that we have nicer things than they do, that we’re happier than they are.
Both assumptions are false. But the effect is the same, it makes us both miserable. It makes us compete against each other. When left to our own devices, we’re happy and so are they. When we see each other, we become jealous.
In our minds the other person is happier than us, making us jealous rather than happy. In their mind, we’re happier than they are, making them jealous as well. We begin to resent each other, wishing ill will on the other, hoping they’ll fail, so that we’ll be happier and better than they are.
If you want to be really happy, stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, especially when they’re trying to keep up with you. Chances are they aren’t happy at all, they just put on a good front in order to make you jealous. Don’t make them better or happier than they really are.
Be happy with who you are and what you have, and you’ll make everyone else jealous. Give it a try. You’ll be amazed at the result.