There is so much talent in this world. So much that, at times, it’s really hard not to feel bad about ourselves or jealous of others. There’s so much comparison in the world, and we want to be the best. Or, sometimes, it’s not even that. Sometimes we just want to be as good as someone else, and we’re not.
As a writer, it’s hard not to be jealous of others; just think of the millions of books that have been published. Apparently, the statistic (from a quick search on Google) is that a million books are published in a year in the U.S. That’s strong competition. The questions start to creep in: will I ever publish a book? Will someone ever read my writing and love it? Everyone is telling me that I’m a young writer, that I won’t be published for years, and sometimes it is so hard to keep the dedication.
In some ways, it’s even harder to not be jealous of the people close to us. Even writers that I’m close to, that I love and are amazing and I should wish all the best for them, I sometimes feel a twinge of jealousy when they seem to be progressing so much farther or so much faster than I am.
The world is so full of competition and self-pity. We see someone who has practiced art for years paint something and say to ourselves, “I wish I was that talented,” and when someone asks us to draw something, we say, “I can’t.”
Tell me, what has happened when you have told a girl she was pretty? 90% of the time the reaction is “What? No, I’m not. What are you talking about?” I can’t tell whether it’s because they really are confused by the compliment, or if they want the compliment to continue; they want reassurance that they really are beautiful.
You are beautiful. You are talented. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, especially if it’s yourself.
But maybe the reason the world is like this is because we made it this way. In our jealousy, in our pity, we’ve become self-centered. When others have accomplishments, because of our lack of them, we have no joy in them. In fact, sometimes we even wish that others would not have done such a wonderful thing so that we wouldn’t feel so bad.
That’s not how it’s supposed to be. Just think of how wonderful this would be: whenever someone had a good day, you had a good day, too. Whenever someone accomplished something, you shared in their joy. Whenever you saw someone making a difference, you were happy that the world was a better, brighter place, and you were encouraged, not discouraged. As one of my teachers put it, “Life would be a party all the time.”
Isn’t that what we want life to be like? We want to be happy. But we mistakenly believe that this will come by others praising us for what we do, or from being better than other people.
Happiness doesn’t come from the outside in. It comes from the inside out. Only you have the power to decide whether you are happy or not. When people used to tell me that, I didn’t understand what they meant when I was so sad. But I think I understand now.
It means that when someone accomplishes something, you choose whether to be happy or jealous. It means that when someone is better than you, you choose whether to use them as a model or to covet their position. It means that when someone gives you constructive criticism, you choose whether to honestly receive it or to push it away because you don’t want to change.
It’s hard. I will freely admit that, that right now, in the short-term, making that decision to put others in front of yourself is hard. But happiness is worth it, and it becomes easier every time you make that decision.
I challenge you: make the choice. Say “thank you” when someone compliments you, and pay it forward by complimenting others. Share in the joy of other people’s accomplishments. Smile at people. Serve others. Work hard. You will be happy, and you will find your worth.
There is a quote by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a leader in my church, that I think describes this perfectly. “We become more substantive as we serve others. Indeed, it’s easier to find ourselves because there’s so much more of us to find.”