You’re a good worker, but there’s someone in the office that just seems to be working so much harder, or better, or simply more. You think if they can do it, you should be able to do it, and then you feel bad about yourself. If this sounds familiar, you’re driving yourself crazy for absolutely no reason. Here’s why.Photo by Jamie Henderson
When reading Leila Brillson’s article Facebook Makes Us All Sad Because Everyone Is Happy But Us on tech blog Switched I couldn’t help but think the same thing applies to work. The idea is this: when you see a bunch of other people being happy, it looks like they have a completely happy life and they’re happier than you. That’s not necessarily the case, but it sure looks that way. The thing is, how many people do you know that post pictures of sad and boring times in their lives? Who has a photo album of a funeral? Or the time they decided to get divorced? We generally do not show the bad stuff so everyone else only sees what’s good in our lives.
It’s all a case of “the grass is always greener on the other side”, and that certainly applies to your work life as much as it does to your social life. If you’re a hard worker and you compare yourself to another hard worker, generally that other worker is going to seem to be doing more than you. Why? Because you’re only seeing the work they’re doing and none of the breaks they’re taking or the time they spend goofing off. You don’t see their social life, their home life, or much else other than their productivity. On the other hand, you see every detail of your own life and so you make a terrible comparison. You compare this seemingly perfect worker to a more realistic picture of yourself. Does this other worker actually work harder/better/faster than you? Maybe, or maybe not. The problem is you can’t know by observing and so when you make that comparison—that you’re not as good—you’re basing it on bad, or at least insufficient, information.
So what do you do about this? Stop. Stop comparing yourself to other people. We’re all human, and we’re all flawed. It’s fine to admire the qualities you see in someone else and aspire to them, but it helps no one to think of yourself as lesser because you view someone as better when you really don’t know either way.