The Daily Stoic for October 6th, “Looking Out For Each Other”.
“It’s in keeping with Nature to show our friends affection and to celebrate their advancement, as if it were our very own. For if we don’t do this, virtue, which is strengthened only by exercising our perceptions, will no longer endure in us.”—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 109.15
We all like to consider that we are generous people. We want to believe that we are glad and happy when we see others enjoy success. But to be honest, I think our first reaction is quite the opposite.
I think we are jealous by nature. Maybe not with people we love, like friends or family. But what about strangers, celebrities or our competition?
Looking Out For Each Other
I think that’s because we fail to understand that life is not a zero-sum game. For a long time, I’ve been that guy.
When I was working at a cubicle, I would look out the window and feel jealous of those out there, enjoying the sunlight of a perfect Friday afternoon while I was still hours away from getting home.
Then, when I became a freelancer, and I was struggling to find customers and make ends meet, I was jealous too. I lived in a well-off suburb and there was this rich kid with a convertible Audi. Obviously, he didn’t need to work. Lucky him… And I was jealous, yes.
Later, when I was trying to become an entrepreneur, and I had to work nights and weekends to get some income to sustain my family while developing a product -that will become a total failure– I was jealous of those 20-something hipsters with rich dads who were playing the startup game, and could afford spending years “experimenting” while the rest of us needed our products to work right away…
It took me a while to understand that it was me who had a problem. Instead of focusing on being jealous or resentful about these people, I should focus on what to do to improve my life, or my business. They are not to blame for their situation, for being born in a rich family, or even for doing business at 23 while I was studying, believing that a good steady job was the answer.
That’s when I started to feel glad for them, and that’s when, ironically, things started to work out for me :).
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Looking Out For Each Other”, discusses how we should avoid being jealous about the success or wealth of others. That only represents our inner fears and doubts. Instead of blaming others, let’s focus on improving our lives.