Why keeping up with the Jones’s is a terrible idea

At university we all seemed to be on a level peg. We were always out, always skint and always ‘never leaving something to the last minute again’ (until the next library all-nighter fuelled only with pro-plus and diet coke). But as ‘real adults’ it seems like we’re all in competition- and not just at work. I think that this constant competitiveness prevents happiness and fuels dissatisfaction with your own life. Indeed, the rise in social media (which gets blamed for everything, it seems) makes “humble bragging” extremely easy, but why should someone refrain from sharing good news, just because their friends might be jealous?

When something good happens to one of my friends I’m genuinely pleased for them. I’m glad they’re engaged or that they’ve bought a house. Just as, when something not so good happens I’m incredibly sad for them, wishing that I could take away the horrible way that they’re feeling. I can count on one hand, however, the amount of friends that seem truly happy when something good happens to me; the ones that are interested in my wedding plans or ask questions about my promotion. I’ve lost touch with some people who, for one reason or another, just couldn’t be happy for me, making unnecessary remarks or even trying to compete with me.

I’m happy with what I have; I have a job that I love and I see myself with a career in, I love my partner unconditionally, have a relationship that I’m proud of and I live in a beautiful house in an alright area.  At 24 I’m happy with where I am and proud that I’ve worked my way to get here. Others don’t seem as happy at my success (if I can be as bold as to call it that). And I should point out that while I do see myself as well on my way, I’m under no illusion that I have it all- but that’s okay; success is relative. I’m proud that I haven’t given up on the way and believe I have the drive to get to where I want to end up, eventually. And that’s why I think I am successful and I will be successful; I’m aiming for the moon and if I don’t reach I’ll still be in the stars. I’d hope that when I do get there my friends are pleased that I’ve arrived, but for some I’m unsure whether some peoples’ own insecurities or feelings of failure will allow that.

I’m not sure why people compare their lives to other peoples. We are all at a different stage in life. Even people with some similar circumstances differ; each having their own difficulties to face and their own battles to fight. Those battles take time so while one person might get a promotion another might have previously faced redundancy. While you’re sharing your baby scans on Facebook think about the friend who’s not finding it so easy to conceive- on the face of it they may have a sports car and big house when all they really long for is a child. You just don’t know. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being happy that they have the house and the car, just because you don’t consider that yours are as good.

Envy is natural but it shouldn’t stop you being happy for another person.  Often I consider that those who aren’t truly happy for others are those who are dissatisfied in their own lives; they don’t like their job, their boyfriend or really the person that they’ve grown into. But that’s their own lookout. If there’s something you don’t like in life; change it. It’s that simple.

Life’s too short not to love yours and if your main priority is doing everything at the same rate as a peer then you need to take a step back and evaluate. You probably have something that they, one day, hope to have too. Are they happy for you?

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