If you work with me, you will often hear me say, “The grass may be greener, but it still needs cutting.” This basically means that things can always be better, but you still need to work hard at reaching your goals.
Some people spend too much time comparing their success to others. They see only the wealth, friends, cars, houses or fame others have. They take those differences and conclude that they are somehow deficient, or a failure for not having the same life as these ‘obviously brilliant’ people.
On one level, observing what other people have gained and wanting to aspire to their success is a very human thing. It can be great motivation — if it’s taken as such. If you see other people doing well, reaching their goals and being rewarded for it, then you might want to ask yourself (or ask them) “What is it I need to do in order to follow a similar path to success?”
Gaining insight and knowledge into how other people chase their goals can be very revealing and helpful. At least it gives you an idea of what you might need to do to follow their lead.
On another level, unrealistically wanting what others have can lead to depression. I often see people fall into depression when they rate everything they do against others. They are destined to observe others doing better, because they are looking for confirmation that they are somehow not good enough.
Realistically, some people will be better at various things than we are. There is always somebody smarter, faster, taller, richer and prettier than we are. But to beat ourselves up for not being the same as them, or achieving the same, is totally irrational. Instead of watching what others are doing and concluding they are doing it better, stop and ask yourself what you are demanding of yourself. Often you’ll be holding an irrational belief such as “I must be as successful as X or I’m a total failure.”
But does that make sense? Why ‘must’ you be as successful? You would be better served by thinking rationally about this, and holding a preference such as, “I would really like to be as successful as X, but it’s not always possible. It also doesn’t mean I’m a failure if I’m not as successful as he is, it just means that I’m human and there are things I can work on to gain success.”
This type of thinking will help you look at your goals and understand how you can work toward achieving them, rather than wasting time wishing that things were different.
You may never be as successful as other people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be as successful as you can be. There will be many things that you do very well, but because they are not massive successes, they’re often discounted. Celebrate all successes, even the smallest ones.
So if you want your grass to be greener, go mow the lawn. Weed it. Feed it. Don’t just watch it grow out of control and wish it was better. There’s no garden fairy that’ll do the work for you — it’s all down to you. Go change. Go do it.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Apr 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Coster, D. (2013). Comparing Yourself to Others: The Grass May Be Greener, But…. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 27, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/04/05/comparing-yourself-to-others-the-grass-may-be-greener-but/