27 Nov You are welcome to be successful – as long as I am better!
Click here to get to the artist who created the caricature.
There seems to be a correlation between success and people who dislike you. I remember when I was little and my father was a famous politician. He was quite popular but the fame had a downside. “Now it’s a full moon again, new hate mails on the way,” I remember him saying. My current mentor is successful – and also hated by some. Someone might say that it is because he is such a strong character with provocative views, but that argument will not do. Even a gentle and obviously good person like Eckhart Tolle said in an interview that he has received boxes with his book shredded by a paper mangle. Someone has written a complete “hate book” about Byron Katie, another loving spiritual teacher who has inspired millions.
This also aplies to artists and businessmen. Loved by many, but if they become big, they automatically get the paparazzi chasing scandal pictures and opponents who want to see them fail. Some examples are Michel Jackson with lawsuits by greedy parents, Madonna who lived under threat, Steve Jobs – admired but also portrayed as a psychopath and former beauty queens like Britney Spears and Angelina Jolie where people revel in seeing how their looks fade away in gossip magazines. It is possible that some rumors are true, but it is the desire to see someone fail which is the theme of this post.
I think it is important to investigate this to change our attitude to become less envious about other’s success. Probably you are not a person who would write a hate book. I guess you have experienced that you can feel joy for someone else’s sake. So we are not evil. However, I guess that you, like myself, are not a saint like Mother Theresa? If we are honest with ourselves, sure there is a voice in the head that now and then is jealous. Why is that so?
The argument that follows is about this envious voice. I have an idea I want to test with you, we’ll see if you agree:
- We feel that we are people who are good at some things and less good on the other things
- Sure, we wish to get better at what we do?! Is there anything we do not want to be good at? Everything is not important for us, but we want to be successful
- We compare ourselves with others, for example:
- Some wonder if they have more or less money than another person
- Others wonder if they look better or worse than the other
- Someone might be better at tennis than me, and I would of course like to be good at tennis
This means that there are a lot of areas where we want to improve and where we also compare ourselves with others to get an idea of where we stand. If we get better, we notice it by others become relatively poorer. If we do not develop because we do not have the talent or because we do not strive enough while others get better, we also notice that we become relatively poorer.
We have stated that we want to improve, there’s no reason not to wanting to get better. Then it is logical that we do not like to become relatively poorer. Sure, there’s a side of us that is loving and want everyone to be happy. But we are lying to ourselves if we do not acknowledge that there is another side, the envious and competitive side. We know how to behave to not make it clearly visible, but I think it’s important to also know the “dark” side, the one we are not so proud of. It can be called Ego. For some, the dark side is so strong that they are driven to write hate books. For most of us it’s just a subtle feeling of not really being able to enjoy genuinely with others’ success. It has been said that the first thing the Ego thinks when hearing about other people’s success is “fuck” and that the Ego always feel gloat when someone fails. It may be subtle and mixed up with good manners or bad conscience, but sure the voice is there sometimes. In Sweden we have a saying: “Gloat is the only true joy”? From the Ego’s point of view, this is true. However, not from the point of view of love. Which side do you live for?
However, gloat can be fun, if it is done with “tongue in cheek”. We play with our own jealousy. It is healthy and fun because we indirectly admitted to each other that we are envious. A bit like teasing, where we play lovingly with each other’s Egos. I have many friends who are good at it. Some time ago I had a few guy friends at my house for dinner and they decided to look through my closet to find the ugliest things I bought. One of the guys is quite an actor with a wonderful sense of humor. He created scenes at the dinner table, where he pretended to be me when I went shopping and bought those embarrassingly ugly shoes or the hat from the 50s that I thought I would look cool in. He pretended to open the door to a store, “Hey , can it really be a sale on that hat? It’s cut out for me. I’ll take it right away. You don’t have two do you?” Five guys lying on the floor and dying of laughter, while I just sit there red in the face, both loving it and feeling ashamed at the same time. What to do but admitting it is funny?
I think this is an example of “healthy gloat”, there is a good intention in the bottom and a tongue in cheek. Therefore, I do not begrudge my friends for making fun of me and my failures when trying to shop cool stuff.
But why should we feel envy and in some individual cases even hatred towards those who are successful? The only way to become successful in the world is to give something to others, this is also the way to make money. The successful people are in many ways those that push the world forward. I think the first and crucial step is to admit to ourselves that those less noble thoughts are there. Suppressing them only leads to us fooling ourselves. Instead of interfering in the affairs of others and pointing finger, perhaps it is better to first deal with our own shit. I think self-mockery is a great tool for this. Plus it’s fun! 🙂