It's so easy to do, comparing your life to others. It could be friends, family, or even strangers. You measure where you are against their position. One of the flaws with this approach is that you only see outward appearances. There is no awareness of what's happening behind the scenes.
For example, one of your neighbors has an impressive, beautiful home. They have two new cars parked in the driveway. They appear to lead a storybook life. By contrast, you feel your life is mundane, perhaps even deficient. You are jealous.
The adage, "don't judge a book by its cover," is certainly appropriate advice when attempting to assess how good a life somebody else has. The key element is that you never know what other people are actually going through.
Those neighbors you are envious of may be frustrated beyond imagination. Perhaps they are part of an all too common scenario; living beyond their means. They are deep in debt. Everything they possess has been bought with borrowed money. Their income barely covers their expenses or their expenses may exceed their income.
But what is going on behind the scenes? Is their marriage strained by all of the financial stress? How much time do they spend with their kids? If every aspect of their life is strained, the house and cars that you see provide little solace.
The same mistake is made when comparing yourself to popular celebrities. They appear to have such perfect lives. Yet every day there are headlines chronicling the demise of another famous person. The problems are always the same; drugs, money, crime, marital strife, children gone astray, or any manner of aberrant behavior. This is yet further evidence that other people’s lives are not necessarily as they appear. Money, fame, success, and recognition do not guarantee happiness.
Many are jealous of big money lottery winners. Doesn't an instant windfall of tens of millions of dollars have to make life better? How many problems could be solved with more money? Yet, within five years, 90% of these lucky individuals have lost all of their winnings and some are in worse financial condition than before their win.
You can't live someone else's life. There's nothing to be gained from jealousy. Your energy is better used moving toward your own goals. Once you determine what you would like to achieve, you are on your way. The next step is formulating a plan designed to reach your destination. This is followed by taking action one step at a time.
Everyone has problems. The road to success is filled with challenges. Successful people become experts at finding solutions. Those who struggle, fixate on problems. Regardless of your current situation, you can change course, fix problems, or make improvements. No one else is responsible for your circumstances. You are solely responsible for your life. Being envious of someone else's life is pointless.
The most important question to ask today is where do you want to go from here? Your next step is all that matters. Whatever has happened in the past is over. The two things to be learned are what didn't work and what did. Avoid duplicating past mistakes while repeating successful behavior.
Success or failure is based on attitude. Developing an attitude of gratitude keeps you on a positive track. Regardless of what may be wrong, there are many more things that are right.
Live on your terms. Avoid shortcuts. They don't work and lead off of a cliff. Treat others with respect. Always act morally and ethically. You can achieve anything you want by helping enough other people achieve what they want.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at
or write him c/o this paper. 2013 Bryan Golden.