At many points of our lives, we’ll fantasise about living someone else’s life for a day or two (or even forever) because of what they have that might seem impossible for us to ever achieve.
It could be wealth, love, or even a peace of mind, which is very much underrated nowadays and not even thought about often. We tend to look at what others have (or don’t have) and compare it with our own situation, sometimes to feel better about ourselves, sometimes to feel worse.
When we’re in a position of privilege, we’ll look at others and count our blessings, or for some, we would put them down for not trying harder. Oh look at him, he’s in such an unfortunate situation, but why didn’t he try harder or put in more work to get out of his plight?
On the other hand, when we’re in a position of suffering, we’ll look at others and blame everything else except ourselves. Why do he get to enjoy such a good life — born with a silver spoon, life without hardships or failures, and now he’s in such a high-paying job not doing much just because his family owns a successful business.
I’ve had similar thoughts too, especially when growing up and constantly looking at those who have had a better time than me. I seldom look at someone who’s less fortunate and empathise with him or her, thinking about how to help or at least count my blessings. I guess humans are just born to be selfish.
And I’ve imagined living a luxurious life, without having to do much but still see the moolah rolling in. As I grew older, though, I realised everyone faces their own problems in life, regardless of how enviable their lives might seem to outsiders.
More importantly, (and some might disagree) even if I were to be given a life of a billionaire out of the blue one day, I might not be able to maintain that life for long, and I might not want to live like that forever.
Most of us won’t ever live a life like someone else’s because our lives up to this point are mostly because of the decisions — or indecisions — that we make over the course of our lives. And even if we were put in a different life, the outcome might still be largely the same.
Spend the time working on ourselves
Spend less time looking at the lives of others and spend more time working on our own. Because the more time we spend on envying others or imagining ourselves in another life, the more time we’re taking away from ourselves to work on our own.
The quote above suddenly struck me one day to explain how I’ve been living my life for the past half a decade or so. Before that, I was always influenced by how people around me are doing.
Am I catching up with X and maintaining my lead in the rat race from Y? How about Z, did he just got somewhere that I couldn’t if I’m still in this current job or career path?
Eventually, I realised that it’s a neverending comparison and pointless race. I wouldn’t get anywhere if I was always looking at others and adjusting my efforts based on how they were faring. I would just live a life that was defined by the lives of others.
I must say that yoga has helped me realise many simple yet hard-to-apply principles in life because of the hours on the mat where I’m stuck with my instrospective thoughts. Inevitably, these thoughts would be about life and how certain choices we make in rash moments can have severe reverberating effects that can last years or even a lifetime.
Needless to say, comparing one’s life with others was a recurring topic that I’ve thought about for a long time. Others around me have struggled with this as well, and conversations with many people over time inched me closer and closer to accepting the simple fact: Our lives will never be like someone else’s, and we should build a life of our own that we’re proud of.
Be a driver, not a passenger
Take control of our lives by being the driver of our car and not a random passenger on a high-speed train to an unknown destination.
The sooner we realise that our lives will never be the same as someone else’s, the sooner we’ll focus on working on our own and do whatever it takes to make our lives better. This might be obvious, but it’s always good to have a reminder every now and then.
If you have been living all your life in a mode of comparison, being defined by the lives of people around you, 2021 might be a good starting point to start taking charge of the steering wheel. Get yourself back on the road that belongs to you.