“Turn jealousy into admiration and what you admire will become part of your life.” – Yoko Ono
Do you get inspired by competition, or does it turn you green with envy?
In my previous post about climbing, I shared one of my favorite lessons, “There will always be someone who warms up on your project”. I admit that I have been humbled by this many times, and I even used to compare my performance on the rock to my husband (who climbs MUCH more than I do and frequently does much harder grade levels when he does). What is the point of that? I also had my moments of quiet jealousy during residency when I overheard accolades from attendings about a fellow resident, knowing full well that I was much more the ugly duckling than the golden swan of my program.
Comparison to others leads to unhealthy expectations of the self, which can be a major source of stress for many people. This way of thinking takes away from present-tense mindfulness and detachment from the ego, which are both key components to coping with stress. Many people believe that Facebook and social media have increased the possibility of unhealthy comparison, given that these outlets are mainly vehicles for people to replay their “greatest hits” for friends and family. Fellow blogger Jen Keck recently mused about the impact of FB on our self image, and PsychCentral discussed our society’s addiction to FOMO (fear of missing out). In addition, consider the popularity of entertainment such as The Enquirer, TMZ, or other “caught on tape” style media… some people love to see “successful” (rich, beautiful, etc.) people fail!
So what changed me from being jealous to being inspired by others’ successes? Becoming a patient, which taught me self-acceptance. Suffering, then cherishing success on very small levels (like being able to go to the bathroom on my own). Realizing (with full irony) that I am sometimes the person who “warms up on someone else’s project”! Knowing full well that I am incredibly lucky to have had only a benign cancer with manageable residual effects. These things changed my overall perspective to one of gratitude for the small triumphs. Now I feel like the swan.
What about you? I’d love to hear what tactics you use to find inspiration instead of jealousy in the success of others!