It’s not a competition

September 22, 2016

I love Louise Hay’s affirmation cards.

Envy seems to be everywhere, these days. More than ever. Or maybe we see it more now because social media posts give us a way to compare ourselves with others. Social media posts can make us envious of others, whose lives we fear are bigger, more interesting, more secure and happier than our own.

Every time I’ve seen envy in my world it’s thrown me for a loop. That’s because I can’t say I’ve ever been envious of anyone, ever. And my life hasn’t been a slam dunk.

There have always been smarter, better off, prettier, more secure, more successful people than I. There are people with nicer homes, nicer clothes, nicer dogs, even (sorry, Riley, but you can be a crab!) even today at my advanced age.

But still, I don’t feel envious. I have never thought the good fortune of others (or the bad) had anything to do with me.

When someone says they’re envious of…whatever.….the words of the Desiderata ring in my ears:

If you compare yourself with others
you may become vain and bitter
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

It was wise advice in the 1960s and it’s still wise. Life is not a competition. It’s school.  There are lessons to learn. And we each learn at our own pace, whatever that might be. Sometimes, like me, you have to learn the same lesson a bunch of times. And sometimes you get it right away.

Several blogger friends fell on hard times in recent years and were forced to reinvent themselves at midlife or even later. One of them is a very good friend, indeed, and you know who you are because we talk constantly about your new business. I love that you are active and engaged in succeeding because it means you will.

But here’s the thing: they are reinventing themselves. They didn’t sit around being envious of others. They picked themselves up, shook themselves off and put one foot in front of the other until a path to reinvention appeared. They’re embracing this new life, so different from their old one.
We come into the world with a set of unique talents and traits that make up that spark of who we are. That’s the starting point. What happens to us — the tests, the trials, the tribulations (and yes, the good stuff, too) –are meant to teach us something. Every second we spend being envious is a second we are not learning.

Yes, yes, I know, I read that essay that made the rounds recently that said “everything DOESN’T happen for a reason.” And I beg to differ. It all happens to teach us.

But that’s not today’s topic, which is envy. Glad to hear your thoughts, below.

26 comments on “It’s not a competition
  1. Susan says:

    Thank you for this grounding advice. I agree that as a blogger it’s easy to feel like we’re getting behind in one way or another. But you’re right — it shouldn’t be a competition!

  2. Linda Hobden says:

    Being a competition takes out the fun of blogging I feel. I blog for fun – for the pleasure of being able to write about things that interest me – and if one reader stumbles across me then that’s fantastic. I do keep an eye on my stats – only because they fascinate me – not to compare myself to anybody else.

  3. Evalyn baron says:

    Carol – I just love you,☀️????

  4. I love the encouragement of this advice, Carol! It is so easy to be envious of others, but at what cost? Who the he** needs bitterness at this stage of life. I used to be envious of my friends who were thinner,etc, but I joined Weight Watchers and lost 28 pounds! Now who’s envious, LOL? I hope no one, because I would rather be an encouragement and inspire someone to lose weight and regain their health by my example. And sometimes other women are our worst enemies 🙁

  5. I have never been a competitive person, but I understand that others need competition to keep striving. When it comes to writing and blogging, I feel that there are so many voices to be heard, so many things to say, everyone can succeed – though not all can succeed as superstars.

  6. I am always renewing, revamping, and reinventing myself and my life. If you don’t move, you stagnate. My opinion!

  7. Anna Palmer says:

    This is something I work on ALL THE TIME. I address it but appreciating what I have and celebrating success. Even though it is difficult I call myself out on the times that I feel envy. I notice that it comes up most regarding other people’s careers. I take this as a sign that I need to pay more attention to my relationship with my work and either change it or accept it. Again, difficult but worthy. Thanks for making me think. And once again I love your counters.

  8. Nellwyn says:

    I agree that social media has contributed to increased envy in our society. Especially since everyone posts the best versions of their lives, it’s easy to believe that everyone else’s life is better. Thanks for the reminder to stop comparing ourselves to others!

  9. pia says:

    People say guilt is a wasted emotion (defense, really) I kinda disagree basically because it’s taken me 66 years to stop feeling guilty all the tim.

    Envy is a waste.

    Success is something that can’t be quantified. If it could we would know exactly what it takes to become one, how much money one should make and much more.

    Now everyone can publish their own book. I can’t envy people for publishing when it’s taking me forever.
    I can try to write a knock em dead book that meets my expectations. Whether I make much money or not—I will know I’m a success in my own head and really that’s all that counts.

  10. It’s so true that it’s easy to be envious of others. However, we are all unique. I don’t want to work “the formula” just to get more likes and views. It’s more fun to just be me. Our audience find us no matter what we choose to do.

  11. Ellen Dolgen says:

    I am not a competitive person. Never did sports — always preferred to be the behind the scenes worker bee. I do think it is helpful to have aspirations and goals – but it is not healthy to base them on competition and jealousy. I think when you feel envious – you tend to feel inadequate. It’s self-defeating. I love to support others. I get very excited about other people’s success. The more bloggers, the more authors, the more speakers, the more we get our messages heard!

  12. sue says:

    Couldn’t agree more Carol and I’ve also written about comparison and being unique. It is so easy to forget what we have that is good in our lives and feel that others have more, a better life, better blog, are more successful…. We need to take a step back and be grateful for all that we have and celebrate our unique qualities- we are all special. Until we can do that true happiness will elude us. As always I love reading your posts.

  13. Barbara says:

    I’ve never been competitive in any sense, really. There were many to be envious of growing up, but I learned long ago it doesn’t make any difference what others have or do, it’s what you make of yourself.
    I have to tell you my recent Louise Hay story. I was diagnosed with extreme eczema and it was making me nuts. I went directly to her book, You Can Heal Your Life, and checked the list of what’s causing your illness. For Eczema it was ANGER in all caps. So I gave it a lot of thought and had an ‘aha’ moment. I’ve been staying in bed when I wake up and reading the newspapers on my phone. So I start my day angry. You know why. I have stopped doing that and paying less attention to the news and voila! Rash is gone.

  14. When it comes to blogging, I don’t think I’m ever envious of anyone particular. I love to stick to my motto of “I do mine” and they do theirs”, if that make any sense. I’m happy with I’m doing, PERIOD.

  15. Sheryl Kraft says:

    You are so right. Envy is a total waste of time; it takes us out of the here and now and clouds any happiness we are able to find within ourselves. Thanks for a great, thought-provoking post.

  16. lori says:

    Great post! It’s such a waste of time to be envious. It’s so much smarter to learn from everyone and everything.

  17. DT says:

    Love those affirmation cards <3

    Envy just eats away our energy. We need more positive energy to build ourselves and others around us with us.

    — DT | Here I Scribble

  18. Megan says:

    Such wise words and great advice. This little reminder was really helpful for the way I’ve been feeling lately.

  19. tp keane says:

    Wise words. Jealously only leads to bitterness and feelings of inadequacy. Learning to be happy in your own skin is important.

  20. Claudette says:

    Envy is such a waste of time and totally senseless. You see someone at a particular point in life and you might very well have no idea the price they paid to be there. Are you willing to pay it? Can you ‘afford’ to?

  21. You make great points, Carol. Your Desiderata quote is priceless. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Nicole Escat says:

    I hate it when people are so competitive, to the point that they are dragging other people down.This topic is so interesting.

  23. Niesha Byln says:

    Envious is an attitude that can destroy anyone. This should be avoided and must be change soon.

  24. Debbie says:

    While I tend to be competitive on the playing (or running) field, I save it for things that I have control over. Envy is an ugly feeling and has no positive side, so I try to let that go. I think if people are honest, they admit they might feel a twinge from time to time, but those of us who are mature, confident and positive let it go and allow ourselves to be genuinely happy for the success of others. Thanks for sharing at the Blogger’s Pit Stop.

  25. Debbie Goode says:

    As an Artist it is very difficult to NOT feel competitive and constantly compare oneself to other artists. It has taken me many years and I still regress at times, but I have finally learned that we are each unique in our approach to our art. We all have something to offer and a story to tell. We all have value in this world.

  26. Amy Putkonen says:

    Hi Carol,

    These are wise words. Easier said than done sometimes for me, but a good reminder to be mindful of this. I love the focus on failure being a LESSON instead of being something to cause shame. I often tell my daughter to not worry about her mistakes. USE them.

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