The jealousy business is booming- protect yourself!
As long as we've been human, we've experienced painful feelings when confronted with seeing someone that has things we don't have, but what want to have. This is normal, natural and can sometimes push us in a better direction.
But of course, jealousy is mostly harmful or unhealthy and can destroy our lives by causing us to do things that are immoral, risky or are completely incongruent with our own values or desires.
The growing danger that many people don't consider is that the opportunities for jealousy have been steadily increasing over the last 100-150 years and have exploded in the last ten years- a timeframe that makes it impossible for our brains to have caught up in any evolutionary sense.
The amount of people we're exposed to on a daily basis is simply staggering, ensuring you'll be constantly exposed to people who are seemingly or actually doing "better" than you or have more in every conceivable aspect of life. Where before we might have seen a handful of people in small villages or towns with more, now we see millions.
It's more important than ever to learn to control feelings of jealousy, understand their potential impact and limit your exposure to unrealistic or downright fake lifestyles and people!
Not a day goes by we don't read about a developing crisis with mental health and drug abuse in the developed world, and I have no doubt social media and the impact of jealousy are closely linked.
It's one thing to be a kid in school and see the captain of the football team or the guy who plays guitar and gets all the girls and to experience some of the insecurity or fear we call jealousy. It may even help on that level, pushing you to learn guitar or get in better shape.
It is quite another to see literally thousands of peers every week who play guitar and are captain of the football team. And they're taller than you, get better grades, live in a nicer house, live in a better city, have better clothes, etc. A handful of people will be inspired by this level of competition, the rest will be crushed by the pressure of being normal when so many are elite.
A small business owner who might have been happy just being the best in the city is now seeing thousands of entrepeneurs a day with more money, bigger cars and a national reach. Again, a few will be inspired to take things to the next level, while the majority will spend a lifetime in pain at not being enough to sit at a table that only has enough room for the top 1%.
Parents get it especially bad- they see images all day long of parents doing more with less, raising perfect children while maintaining high paying careers and optimum health. Obviously, this is detached from reality for most parents.
The sad irony in all these cases is that the lives of these people are fake- we don't see the behind the scenes reality of these photos or videos. This realization is also at the core of jealousy in general- the lives of the people we're jealous of are rarely as great as we think they are and in a depressing twist, are sometimes jealous of "normal" people.
Be vigilant and focus on yourself
So with increasing opportunities for jealousy, we must be vigilant. I won't go into detail on the negative impacts it can have, but it can destroy relationships, seriously damage your self esteem, derail careers or just send you on a terrible path in life. Here's a few tips to keep in mind:
- Cut down on social media. Fairly obvious, but we forget how much engineering and outright deception goes on behind the scenes to create the image of the lifestyles we see. Especially the "authentic" ones.
- Try and remember that what we see on the surface doesn't tell us anything about how someone is feeling. We all fight a battle in our own heads and being rich, famous or respected is not going to help. Think of how many people would have described themselves of being jealous of Anthony Bourdain and his lifestyle the day before he killed himself.
- Understand that the only competition we have in life is against ourselves- the results are quite random and the people you see at the top had lots of luck along the way whether they realize it or not. For every Jeff Bezos, there's a thousands more who worked just as hard, were just as smart, but got knocked off by life along the way. If you can lay down at night knowing you did your best, that's all that counts.
Remember that the jealousy business is booming, and it's being used to sell you all sorts of crap you don't need. The worst part is that the game never ends- if you're struggling with feelings of jealousy now, trying to climb the ladder isn't going to help as there's always going to be someone ahead of you.
Put your head down, work your ass off and before long you'll become a source of jealousy, not a slave to it!
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