I write these words for everyone in the world except for one person. This post is for the 7.52 billion people who are not the richest person in the world. In other words, Elon Musk, if you are reading, this is not for you.
To everyone else, I have some news:
Someone in the world has more than you, get used to it.
I once read a fascinating statistic about millionaires who lost their wealth. A survey was conducted of people who once had a net worth of $2 million, but now are worth less than $1 million. When asked how they lost half their fortune, 40% responded, “We started hanging out with people worth $10 million, and we lost our money trying to match their spending.”
The study, which I read years and years ago, has always stuck with me. It reveals an important truth:
There is always going to be someone in the world with more than you and trying to keep up with them is a losing battle. Because there will always be someone else ahead of you in the game.
- There is a co-worker in your office who has more than you.
- There is a neighbor down the street who has more than you.
- Someone at your church or community group has more than you.
- There is a family at your kid’s school who has more than you.
- And we all know there is someone on television right now who has more than you.
That is always going to be the case (except for you Elon).
Now, it seems to me there are only a couple of responses we can have to this reality:
1. We get jealous and envious and bitter that someone has more.
2. We accept it and decide to find happiness with what we have.
The clear choice for a joyful and happy life is #2.
But too often, we choose #1.
As a result, we spend much our time comparing our things to other people. We compare the size of our house, the year of our automobile, the brand of our clothing, our last vacation destination, the age of our retirement, or our paycheck with the person next to us.
Unfortunately, there is no joy to be found in these comparisons. Ever. Because there is always going to be someone with more.
There is no contentment to be found in comparing our stuff with other people. You may think that once you own a fancy house or nice car like so-and-so, you’ll be happy. But that’s simply not the case because there is always going to be someone else to compare yourself to… always a bigger house, a more prestigious neighborhood, or a fancier model car to own.
There is no end to the comparison game. There is always, always going to be someone in the world with more.
I fear making sweeping generalizations, but I am going to for the sake of argument.
If you are reading these words, your needs are met. You have clothes and food and shelter.
You may not have the most expensive clothes in the world, you may not eat at the fanciest restaurants, and you may not live in the biggest house on your block. But your needs are being met.
In fact, I may take this moment to declare another truth. Not only is there someone in this world with more than you, there is someone in this world with less than you.
There is someone in this world with less than you who is perfectly content and happy because they have chosen to be happy right where they are, rather than comparing their lives to someone with more.
There is someone in the world with more than you. But you have many reasons to be grateful. And you have everything you need to find happiness. So stop comparing.