I met a lot of awesome people in 2014.
Perhaps most notably, I met a lot of awesome people in America during my three week trip that incorporated the World Domination Summit in July. A lot of people that I had known online for years but not actually met in person, plus a lot of equally awesome people that I’d hadn’t known previously.
I learned a great many things in those three weeks, but today I want to share with you the most compelling realization I came to. That same realization will shape what I do (and how I do it) in 2015 and beyond, and it may well completely change your perspective on how you should live your life.
Meeting a Blogging “Great”
It all started with me meeting one of the biggest bloggers out there last summer. Think of a Pat Flynn or a Chris Guillebeau and you’re on the right lines. (And no, I’m not going to reveal who it was!)
We went out for lunch and chatted about everything under the sun. But it got really interesting when I began to realize that this person wasn’t really living the life he wanted to. His life was focused on a very limited set of goals (largely professional and familial) – there was a lack of balance. There were things he wanted to do that he couldn’t because of his commitments.
Despite – actually, because of – his astounding success, he was trapped by his commitments.
I’m not saying that our anonymous blogger was miserable, but I could definitely sense an air of despondency when he spoke about the things he couldn’t do because of the life he had created for himself.
This was a man that I had looked up to; perhaps even idolized to an extent. And although I have no right to feel pity for any other person (it seems arrogant and presumptuous at best), part of me did. Despite his wealth and success, he wasn’t living the kind of life that I would want to live.
On Ignoring Everyone
The moral of the story is this: there is little value in jealousy. Why? Because in being jealous, we’re not only evaluating an illusion, we’re evaluating the wrong thing. Or to put it another way, jealousy (by its primary definition) is a redundant emotion.
Let me explain. Here is the primary definition of jealousy:
Feeling or showing an envious resentment of someone or their achievements, possessions, or perceived advantages.
To feel jealousy in the above-defined way is assign value to an illusion. We envy the achievements and possessions of others without knowing what it took to achieve or attain them. We are jealous of the end product without knowing the process that led to it.
Moreover, in many cases we are jealous of a perception of something, not what something actually is. For example, I was envious of the blogger I met without realizing that I was envious of an artificial reality.
There is no way for us to judge each other on a level playing field. We are constructs of our past; each of which is limitlessly complex and impossible to fully decipher. By that logic, we should not feel envious of each other’s achievements, possessions or perceived advantages because:
- we often don’t know if what we perceive is matched by reality, and
- we don’t know what it took to achieve or attain that which we feel we should be envious of.
The same logic applies when it comes to comparing yourself to others – it’s impossible to do so objectively or reliably. You’re probably comparing yourself with a construct fabricated in your mind, and you’re certainly comparing yourself without fully understanding the history that led that person to where they are; the opportunities they were afforded, the luck they experienced, the help they had, and so on.
There is no such thing as a level playing field in this world, and the more you appreciate that, the better you will understand that comparing yourself to others is an pointless exercise.
On Being Yourself
In short, all you can be sure of is how happy you are.
Therefore, focus on what you can do to make yourself happier. Don’t worry about what other people are doing; their definitions of happiness will probably be very different to yours. (Having even a rudimentary understanding that money isn’t the key to happiness will put you in far better stead than the vast majority of people.)
Once I did this, my life genuinely changed. I truly understood that there is no meaningful way to ‘keep score’ with others around me, so instead I decided to keep score with myself. Am I doing things that I enjoy? Do I get out of bed with a spring in my step every morning? Do I feel free and unencumbered to explore the world around me in a manner of my own choosing? These are the questions that matter to me now.
For me, 2015 will be all about improving my scores. You only have to look at my goals in 2015 to understand this: it’s a list of balance and variety, focusing on what I can do to better appreciate and enjoy my life, with no real concern for how it compares to anyone else.
If I look back at 2015 knowing that I had achieved all of the things I set out to do, I will feel like a more fulfilled and valuable human being than I was before. Isn’t that ultimately what it should all be about?