“The world is not driven by greed, it is driven by envy”
Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway
“Comparison is the thief of joy”
Our lives are objectively the best humanity has ever had, yet complaining and dissatisfaction are as high as ever. Humans don’t just want their lives to be better, they want them to be better than their neighbors, their parents and the people they see on social media.
This quote above from Charlie Munger holds true not just in the world of finance and business, but also in our personal lives. Envy and comparison are insidious forces that can rob us of our joy and contentment.
The act of comparing ourselves to others is a natural human tendency. From a young age, we are taught to measure our worth and success against our peers.
As we grow older, this tendency can become more pronounced, especially with the advent of social media. With the constant barrage of carefully curated images and highlight reels of other people’s lives, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparison.
Teddy Roosevelt correctly said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When we constantly measure ourselves against others, we can never be truly happy with our own lives. There will always be someone who has more money, a more successful career, a better-looking partner, or a more luxurious lifestyle.
Focusing on what we lack rather than what we have can lead to feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness.
Envy is closely tied to comparison. When we envy someone, we covet what they have and wish that we had it too. This can lead to a sense of bitterness and resentment towards that person, even if they have done nothing wrong.
Envy can also drive us to make poor decisions, such as overspending to keep up with our peers or engaging in unethical behavior to get ahead.
How can we break free from the cycle of comparison and envy?
The first step is to recognize that everyone’s journey is different. We all have our own unique strengths, weaknesses, and life experiences. Comparing ourselves to others is like comparing apples to oranges – it’s simply not a fair or accurate comparison.
Next, it’s important to focus on gratitude. Instead of dwelling on what we lack, we can take stock of all the blessings in our lives. Practicing gratitude can help shift our perspective and cultivate a sense of contentment and joy.
Finally, we can try to reframe our thinking around success. Instead of measuring success based on external factors, such as wealth or status, we can focus on internal measures of success, such as personal growth, relationships, and happiness.
Comparison and envy are powerful forces that can rob us of our joy and contentment.
It may seem odd to you that a financial advisor is talking about having less, but it really is about having “Enough.” If you only focus on having as much as the neighbors, you will never have enough.
By recognizing the dangers of comparison and envy and taking steps to shift our perspective, we can break free from these negative forces and find true happiness and fulfillment in our lives. That is what real financial planning can do.
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