A wise man asked me how I would react to the following situation…
You are looking for some work and a man offers you a job working around his house. He offers you a sufficient amount of money for a full day of work and you willingly accept. You begin working at 7:00 am and as noon approaches you see the man return to his house with another worker. You continue to work through the day and watch as the man leaves again only to return with yet another worker. As the workday winds down, you and the other workers are called over to receive your pay. He pays you first and you receive exactly what you agreed upon. He then goes to the worker who arrived at mid-day and gives him the same amount he paid you. Lastly, the man calls over the worker who arrived with only a couple of hours remaining in the day and also pays him the same amount that he paid you.
“How would you feel” The wise man asked me? “I would be pissed” I quickly responded. “That’s not right at all. How the hell do the guys who didn’t work as much as I did receive the same amount? If anything I deserve more money” I claimed frankly. The wise man smiled and said “but didn’t you agree to that amount”. “Yes I did but I didn’t know that he would pay people the same amount for a half or a quarter of the work I did” I argued. A brief moment went by and the wise man said
“Exactly! You didn’t know and what if you never knew? What if you didn’t see how much money the other workers received? Would you still be so angry? Would you still feel like you didn’t get what you deserved and you needed more? Would your peace of mind still be gone? Or would you be content with what you earned and be on your way? I believe you would be content and the reason you’re not is because of comparative living. You compare what you have with others and often become dissatisfied with what you were pleased with moments before the comparison”
I set for a moment and pondered the effect comparative living was having on my life. I thought about how often I would be at peace with what I had, what I was doing, where I was going, and who I was with until I compared it to what others had, what others were doing, where others were going and who others were with. I was fine riding in my Ford until I compared it to the guy driving the BMW. I loved my apartment until I compared it to someone’s house. I was cool staying in on a Friday night until I compared it with pictures of people partying it up on social media. In each instance I was just like the worker and only became discontent once I began comparing to others. Of course the wise man knew all of this and knew that I could never fully embrace my life if I was constantly comparing it to others.