There is a fine line between admiration and jealousy. We love watching people succeed, but not too much.
It was easy to root for Tom Brady when he won his first Super Bowl. But outside of Patriots fans, was there a person in America that was rooting for him to win his fifth?
We love supporting the underdog until the underdog wins a championship and signs Kevin Durant. Bill Simmons used to be a scrappy guy, now he’s reading Blue Apron commercials. Malcom Gladwell used to have fascinating insights, but now he’s sitting next to Bill Simmons listening to him read Blue Apron commercials.
Successful people- and I’ll define success as happiness- don’t spend much energy worrying about who caught a lucky break. Unhappy people can’t think of a successful person who’s earned it. Alright, one, two tops, but they probably believe they could fill their shoes if given the same opportunity.
The tenth commandment says “thou shall not covet.” But we shall covet because we’re people, and that’s what people do. Wanting what others have is part of what makes us human.
Is it possible to be happy with what you have? Is it ever enough? The shitty reality of this world is that there are way too many people who don’t have even close to enough, but what about the rest of us who have more than enough?
You could read all the self-help books in the world, but that won’t stop you from looking at those around you. There is a huge gap between you and them and attempting to shrink that is a multi-billion dollar industry.
This sounds pretty bleak and maybe it is. I don’t have any words of wisdom on this topic because some things just are.
On a lighter note, you see the Dow? For the record, I’m still a big fan of Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell and regularly listen to both their podcasts.
Michael Batnick is a managing partner at Ritholtz Wealth Management. He is the co-host of Animal Spirits, What Are Your Thoughts, and The Compound and Friends. For disclosure information please see here.