Recently several of my clients have shared with me that they feel jealous and/or that they find themselves comparing their lives unfavourably to the lives of others.
But when we compare ourselves to others, we are ignoring our own uniqueness, as Daisaku Ikeda reveals when explaining one of Nichiren’s famous writings: “Cherries are cherries. Peaches are peaches. A cherry could never become a peach. It wouldn’t be necessary. Even if it did, it wouldn’t be happy. We should live in a way that is true to ourselves. We could not become someone else, even if we wanted to. Our lives are precious and irreplaceable.”
In other words you’re better off being the best cherry you can be rather than wishing you had been born a peach. (Or having facelifts until you look like a peach…)
Jealousy repels happiness
So when you are jealous of others, you are disrespecting both your own life and the other person’s. You are begrudging their right to happiness while simultaneously disparaging yourself by refusing to believe you are also capable of fulfilment. And from a karmic and subconscious point of view, when you resent others’ success you are repelling success from your own life.
Jealousy is also rooted in being too concerned about what other people think of you and comparing yourself negatively to them, a condition that the big brands exploit to sell us more stuff via adverts suggesting that you cannot be happy yet, because, wait for it, you haven’t bought one of these yet…
Many of us also have an unhealthy obsession with not ‘losing face’. If you’re constantly wondering, “I wonder what they think of me?”, then it might be time to get over yourself. Can you imagine walking into a room full of people where everyone is wondering what everyone else thinks of them? Would anyone have a meaningful conversation with anyone? Would any connections be made? They’re not judging how you look and walk, they’re too busy wondering what you think of them.
Comparing ourselves to others no doubt made a lot of sense back in the cave, when survival depended on being the biggest / strongest / fastest etc… but might it now be time for us to get over ourselves?
Compare yourself to your own potential, not to other people
The best advice I’ve had on this issue from Buddhist leaders is to “compare yourself to your own positive potential rather than to other people,” (except if that person is an inspirational mentor whom you can learn from – see separate post here.) If you waste buckets of energy comparing yourself to others, you are just giving your own power away and rejecting yourself. And you risk becoming a fragile mish-mash of all the people you have wanted to be while you’ve been running away from the authentic you. Your time and energy would be much better spent defining what success means to you and then taking action to achieve it.
So, focus wholeheartedly on your own brilliance / Buddhahood rather than comparing your inside to your perception of other people’s outside. Be yourself. As Naked Leader Coach and author David Taylor says, “You have everything you need to be anything you want, within you, right now. Be the very best person that you already are.”
And as always, the starting point from a Buddhist point of view for this adventure is to realise just how precious your life already is.
Ciao for now,