How to Cope With (Other People’s) Success
I have so many friends who have found amazing success. How depressing.
I see friends of my own age and younger... Directing movies and documentaries. Millionaires. With published books (one even has a novel getting converted into a TV series). Running successful businesses. A friend played soccer for my country. Starring on comedy shows. A couple have become important politicians. One a Professor at Berkeley. An ex-girlfriend of mine even had Oscar nominations the last two years.
I have to admit, when I compare my life with that, my chest sinks. I get a feeling of helplessness.
Even those friends who are all ‘happy families,’ with kids, an average job, and a paid-up house. When I look at them, I think what lucky break did they get that passed me by?
Comparing yourself with others, you can’t help but feel inadequate. I’ve not done enough with my life.
Don’t ignore it
It’s a big part of what we call the mid-life crisis, once we hit the 40s and start to stare death in the face and become disillusioned with our careers, relationships, and lives in general. Then there’s the quarter-life crisis, in the unpredictable roller-coaster of the 20s and 30s, which for many of us is filled with doubt and disappointment after our dreams through school.
When we stare at what we perceive as our shortcomings in our accomplishments in life, it can produce depression, remorse, and high levels of anxiety.
The suicide rate in men steadily climbs between 30 and 50 years old.
What can we do?
Everybody has self-doubt at some point in their life, it’s about overcoming that. It’s time to think about ‘self-love’ and how to motivate yourself.
This change in attitude can help you be happier, and even achieve more.
I often tell myself off when I mess up. I always thought it’s just a way to push myself - however, research shows that it undermines your motivation. It can make you more stressed and end up in depression and burnout - or just giving up!
We humans are programmed to respond to gentleness, soft voices, and compassion. We have to be conscious of that internal monologue and make sure that we are being nice to ourselves. Forgive yourself for mistakes and encourage yourself to do better.
Not everybody is amazing - and that’s ok! We all have things that we do better than others, and things we do worse. If we all ‘stood out’ it’s a conundrum, because nobody would stand out.
That’s just being human. As a mathematical rule, most of us have to be average!
The quest to be special can be very negative. Embrace your life, and look for happiness in all the normal things around you. Ordinary can be wonderful.
Go at your speed
I was pulling out weeds from a pot today. I planted several tree seeds, but this one hadn’t come through.
Then I noticed - amongst the clover, a seedling peeping out. It had spent three months putting down roots, and was only now breaking into the light.
Ask yourself, is it going to be any less of a tree than the others who started showing leaves two months ago? Does it deserve less respect because I had given up on it, or does that make it more special?
Go at your own pace in life. Let your roots and branches spread out at their own speed. Don’t push yourself to grow too fast, and be content with every moment.
It’s important to remember we are not isolated. As Dunne wrote, ‘No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.’
We are all interconnected - we ‘inter-are’. When somebody else achieves something great, we can be happy because we are all part of humanity, part of the cosmos.
Equally, we are all imperfect, and we all have failings. Which are shared by everybody.
But from our achievements - as friends, a people, a planet - we should find pleasure, and happiness. Their success is your success.
If you are fully aware of the joy of every living moment - the success of others suddenly becomes irrelevant.
You could be stuck, rotting in a jail cell, but use mindfulness and meditation to become happier than any of your contemporaries.
Be aware of every little pleasure, from birdsong to good company, from tasty food to fresh air.
In place of comparing with others, if you admire them or what they have achieved - learn from them and be inspired.
Most people’s success comes from hard work and dedication. Most people are no different from you nor I.
If you want to succeed, look at what these successful people have done, and use that as glowing light. Embrace them into your life as something to learn from and inspire you to go forward.
Walk your own path
Think about it for a moment. You don’t want somebody else’s life - you want your life, only better.
Look forward to the person you want to be, and walk that path.
Comparing can lead to worry and anxiety. It can make you waiver.
Think of your goals, your dreams, and work towards them. If that means improving or changing your career, your health habits, your social relationships, take those decisions.
Only you can walk your path, so stride. Go forward with a purpose, and discover what successes lie around the corner.
You are successful
Success is relative, and we are all successful if we decide to change the way we think.
One definition of success is pursuing excellence and finding meaning in what you do. As Oscar Wilde wrote: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
Happiness must come from the now - never based on other people, or on a goal we have to one day achieve.
Success is in our control. It’s a flick of a switch. It’s a way of thought. You are successful.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for upcoming posts.
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