Naval Ravikant has this amazing quote where he’s talking about how he overcame jealousy…
“I realised that all these people that I was jealous of, I couldn’t just cherry-pick and choose little aspects of their life. I couldn’t say I want his body, I want her money, I want his personality. You have to be that person. Do you want to actually be that person with all of their reactions, their desires, their family, their happiness level, their outlook on life, their self-image? If you’re not willing to do a wholesale, 24/7, 100% swap with who that person is, then there is no point in being jealous.”
This point seems obvious, but it’s so counterintuitive to how we all relate to the people we’re jealous of.
We look at the humans we admire as ubiquitous successes, a brilliant collage worthy of life-wide admiration and envy.
We presume that we could add in the elements of their life which we love like taking clothes off a rail, but that’s not how life works.
The outfit you’re imagining trying on is head-to-toe, not pick & choose.
And here’s what makes this realisation so important…
We have never been more exposed to the successes of everyone else’s lives than we are now. Social media is a window into the ultimate highlight reel of everyone around us.
We see the glory of people we admire being broadcast via a hundred filters while we see ourselves blunder through life from failure to failure, we watch us stumble over the smallest of challenges from a front row seat on a daily basis.
We see Elon Musk reinventing the automotive industry and flying to Mars, we we watch Conor McGregor winning fights in seconds and making tens of millions of dollars, or we obsess over some beautiful instagram model’s looks, body and notoriety.
We look at them and think “I wish I had Elon’s work ethic” he’s been going at 100mph 80 hours a week for 20 years and he’s running Tesla and SpaceX and launching cars into space and doing crazy dances in China & stuff. He’s worth millions and millions of dollars, I’d love to be him.”
But what is the price for being Elon Musk? What losses in life would you have to accept in order to take those wins?
Would you enjoy the pressure of an entire species watching your businesses? Maybe Elon’s relationship with his father is terrible, perhaps he’s constantly anxious that everything he’s built is going to fail, or he might never be able to get peace from his mind when he’s in bed at night, alone with his thoughts.
Would you pay that price to become Elon?
The same goes for Conor McGregor.
We look at this guy who’s seemingly living his dream right. In peak physical condition, making more money than he can spend, fulfilling his life’s dream of fighting in the UFC.
But do you really want his life? Do you want to be in the gym 5-6 hours a day 6 days a week throwing the same punches, rolling the same sequences over and over again for years and years while you live in your parents’ attic on welfare?
What if Conor never has the insights about himself that you do?
How about if Conor’s desire for achievement leaves him constantly hollow and unsatisfied inside?
You will never know this, you will never see it on a social media post.
And what about every Instagram model you see?
Thousands of followers on social media, adored and praised and complimented across the world for everything they put online while living this dream life.
But what if they can’t bear to eat food without feeling afraid & guilty? You don’t know if they have a terrible relationship with their body and can’t bear to look themselves in the mirror.
You don’t know how anxious they are about publicly failing at their business, or their relationships, or gaining weight, or getting older.
What if they’re on a cocktail of medication just to get out of bed in the morning?
What if they’ve not had an orgasm in months?
The bottom line is this…
“You cannot take part of someone’s life, you have to take the whole.”
We see these magnificent humans ablaze with a fire of success and admirable traits and think that we want to be that beacon for other people to also look up to.
But the fuel which builds these magnificent fires will burn everything else inside of them as well.
Being jealous makes you no better off.
The person you’re jealous of is still successful or good-looking or rich, and now you’re unhappier.
So let it pass.
Comparing yourself to others is a surefire route to misery.
Life is a single player game and as humans go, you’re doing pretty good.