You are surrounded by news, images, and videos of what other people are doing with their lives. It’s a constant barrage. Facebook, You Tube, the internet, reality shows, gossip shows, magazines, newspapers, and the tabloids all enable you to peer into everyone’s exploits.
You receive real time updates as to where people are going, who they are meeting, who they have as friends, what they are doing, what they are eating, what they bought, and what they are thinking.
Envy and jealousy have always been common emotions. Being concerned about what others are doing is an age-old phenomenon. Technology has diminished privacy by transforming the ability to examine the lives of others into a recreational activity.
It’s only natural to then rate your life against everyone else’s. The measure becomes how you compare to others rather than whether or not you are achieving your own goals. The quality of your existence is now transformed into a contest rather than your own journey.
This tendency starts at a young age. When elementary school students are handed back their corrected tests or homework, the room is abuzz as each student looks to see what grade the other students received. In school and in life, someone else’s success or failure has no bearing on you whatsoever.
You pay so much attention to what other people are doing that you neglect your own life. Feelings of deficiency, envy, jealousy, frustration, and even sadness often follow your assessment of how much better other people are living.
There are several flaws to this comparison. Other people have a tendency to project their lives as being better than they actually are. They show only the good while leaving out all of their problems. What they display is not necessarily true or accurate. In short, appearances are rarely what they seem.
While you are fixated on others, your life is passing you by. You are not in competition with anyone. It doesn’t matter what they are doing. There is no need to attempt to impress other people. Even if you do, what have you accomplished? Most of the time, no one cares anyway.
You pay attention to your life by understanding where you are, how you feel, what you want to do, and where you would like to be. You sacrifice time and effort you should be spending on your life by devoting too much attention to others.
You don’t need fame, notoriety, or adulation in order to be happy. The proof is the many people who are in the public spotlight and yet are very unhappy. Ironically, many of these individuals long for privacy and openly express the desire to be left alone.
How would you conduct your life if no one were watching? The answer to this question points to what you should be paying attention to right now. The quality of your life or your happiness is not dependent on the perception of other people or the manner in which they lead their lives.
Never be jealous of how someone else is living. You rarely see the problems they have to deal with and most likely wouldn’t want to trade your problems for theirs. There is frequently much more going on behind the scenes than you could ever imagine.
Pay attention to your life. You don’t need approval. It’s not a competition. Following your own individual path is what’s important. Pay attention to what’s going on today and every day in your own life. Take whatever action is necessary to stay on your path.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or write him c/o this paper. Ó 2014 Bryan Golden