Ask HN: How do you cope with enviness?

12 points by Akcium 4 days ago

I have many successful friends out there. At some time it was motivating, but not it's disappointing.

I'm pretty sure if everyone will be honest, most of us have the same feeling from time to time.

Sometimes it drives us, gives us energy to work. But sometimes it has the opposite effect.

Any thoughts about this?

strikelaserclaw 3 days ago

On a universal scale no human even matters that much (maybe cumulatively we can make a dent at some point), we are insignificant, and i mean that about even the best that humanity has to offer. So really, whether you are better than others is meaningless in the face of time, eventually no one will remember you let alone the fact that you are better or worse than others. In light of this, i suggest you don't compare yourself to people period. And the notion of success is not a good metric, you can be succesful and unsuccesful along multiple dimensions at the same time. You can be rich and miserable, poor and happy. You can have a beautiful family who falls apart because you neglect them while working 90 hr weeks to be "succesful".

codegeek 3 days ago

Remember this quote

"“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ― Ernest Hemingway"

You will always feel shitty if you compare yourself with others. Question is: are you better off personally/professionally compared to yourself from last year/5/10 years ago ? If that answer is Yes, you are good. If not, then yea act on it.

There is ALWAYS someone richer/smarter/successful/accomplished than you. Just the way life is. Imagine if someone worth $50 Million looks at Bill gates and goes, man I wish I could afford what he does. THere is never a limit.

So, start comparing your past to your present/future and make sure you are incrementally creating a better life for yourself and family.

  • JohnFen 3 days ago

    That's a much more poetic way of saying something I've always said: the important thing isn't where you are in the moment. The important thing is that the trend line is going the right direction.

mooreds 4 days ago

I think it is always worth remembering that while you see their success, you don't see the sacrifices made and the costs they paid. I know a number of successful folks and they definitely worked hard and made tradeoffs. So when I feel envy (and I definitely do!) I remember that I'm only thinking of the good parts of their journey, not the tough parts. And then I consider if I'd be willing to make some of the sacrifices I know they've made.

throwaway22032 3 days ago

I have enough.

I don't think that I could "succeed" any more than I have.

You don't need billions, just your health, some intellect and knowledge, and a basic enough lifestyle.

If there were to be some version of me out there with 10x the money - I mean they'd have a bigger house and fun toys, that's it.

If you don't have the minimum and you're a slave that's different. Then you're less envious of others, and more unhappy with your own position.

JohnFen 3 days ago

I honestly can't remember a time when I envied somebody. I'm sure that it's happened, but I don't remember.

I'm either happy with my situation or I'm not. If I'm not, I work to improve it. But how happy (or not) someone else is isn't relevant to my own situation.

I know this isn't really helpful, and I know that I'm not "normal" on this.

deanmoriarty 4 days ago

Not what you want to hear, but I cut people off my life once their (mostly financial) success vastly surpasses mine. It probably happened ~5-10 times so far. I don’t make the reasons explicitly known, I just start distancing myself, not returning calls/invitations until things fade away. For fairness, I wouldn’t mind people doing that to me and I would fully understand.

I recognize it is irrational and sad behavior, but it’s too hard for me to accept people close to me who come into success purely based on luck (strong talent is barely table stake and not a predictor of outsized success).

I have ex-friends who joined startups and roles which were no different than the ones I joined, and they made $20M+ while I didn’t have nearly the same outcome. Similar with ex-friends who made bank in crypto. The worst is when they are also not intellectually honest and try to school you on some bs life lessons on how their success was very much planned despite the fact that you took the same exact risks, with the same exact expected rewards, as them.

  • dnh44 3 days ago

    It sounds like one of your goals is to make a lot of money (which is fine of course). If that's true then purposely eliminating wealthy (and lucky) people from your social circle seems like an act of sabotage.

    • cableshaft 3 days ago

      I agree. I know several people that have been much more successful than me in the board game industry, for example, and I've maintained my friendships with those people, and it's lead to some opportunities I might not have gotten otherwise (so far not the success that they've had, but that might happen eventually).

      Like they've talked to publishers on my behalf and convinced them to set up meetings with me so I can pitch my designs to them, playtested my game designs and gave me useful advice, given me playtester credits on some of their published games, will most likely talk up my games if and when they get published, and I think I might be able to do a codesign with an established designer if I had a bit more time (pretty busy at the moment).

      Personally I'd still be friends with these people even if they did none of that, I just enjoy their company, but it has had some side benefits as well.

      Most people in the board game industry are far from 'wealthy', though. I probably make more money than several of these people I'm referring to (but definitely not all), although I'm much less passionate about my current job than they are, so I could still be envious of them (and every once in a while I do feel that way).

  • techgnosis 3 days ago

    I'm impressed and pleased that you admitted this on such a public place. I feel a lot of those same feelings and I'm willing to bet a lot of people who read this will too. Humans are emotional animals and what you said smacks of reality. Thanks

prirun 4 days ago

When strong, unpleasant feelings of envy occur, it might help to focus on the good things you do have in your life, to stimulate feelings of being grateful, rather than the things you don't have, which fuels feelings of envy.

frontman1988 4 days ago

Having close friends who are successful suddenly makes us jealous. But we aren't that jealous of other kinds of successful people like say random sportspersons or astronauts. I feel that is because jealousy is a biological response shaped by millions of years of evolution. Someone close to you having more resources meant that your access to those limited resources was in some trouble. But now we don't live in those times where the tribe had limited food, mating partners,land etc. I feel mindfullness can help recognize this ape like behaviour. Over time you laugh at it rather than get agitated by it.

  • Akcium 4 days ago

    Thank you for your words.

tsol a day ago

There is a trade off to everything. Whatever your jealous of, you are in some way better off having and in some ways worse off

matt_s 3 days ago

Are you going to put a job title on your grave stone? Something like "Doting Father/Mother, Loving Husband/Wife and Senior Principal Solution Engineer IV".

I'm being snarky and dark to make a point that life is more important than work. Ambition is great and can motivate at times but persistence and discipline of getting work done even when you aren't feeling like it is the definition of being a professional.

There are always going to be smarter, wealthier people out there with nicer toys.

badpun 4 days ago

I know one person my age (or younger) who is more successful than me - in that, he makes more than I make, while living in the same city. I never really envied him, because I recognize that life has a huge random element to it, and he just got more lucky than me (landed in a specialty which happened to pay more than mine). Perhaps it would be different if a lot or even majority of people I know would be more "successful" than me.

dnh44 4 days ago

In terms of having friends that are very successful I simply feel proud and happy for them. Envy just seems like such a damaging emotion that I just won't let myself feel it, to the point where I can't remember the last time I did.

NealStephsnLuvr 4 days ago

I wish I could help, but I don't know anyone more successful than me.

solardev 3 days ago

You know that saying, "good friends are the family you choose"? If you surround yourself with ladder-climbers, you can't help but inherit a bit of that mentality. But you don't HAVE to hang out with people who make wealth their primary objective in life, or who make you uncomfortable with their lifestyles.

Most of my good friends are working-class to lower-middle-class, and it's generally the case that the people who make just a bit more than needed (i.e., not impoverished, but steadily employed and just not earning much above minimum wage, but has stable shelter, food, occasional vacations, etc.) that are the happiest. They end up being the ones who chase their dreams and hobbies instead of a soul-crushing, burnout-inducing techbro career, who befriend and partner with well-balanced, interesting people with diverse hobbies, who love their pets and families and children and neighbors and communities... all the OTHER things outside of work that make life worth living.

Sure, a satisfying work life is important, but that can come in so many forms and not just compensation (i.e., being able to work on interesting problems, or having a great team/coworkers, good work-life balance)... as long as you get paid ENOUGH, amounts beyond that don't really add to happiness.

By contrast, as a rule, all the most miserable people I know (outside of severe addicts) are, well, rich. In a way, they are addicts too -- of capitalism. They get completely blinded by their pursuit of material wealth, big empty mansions, luxury cars with no coziness, manicured landscapes with no life. It's like they spent all that time (and more importantly, emotional energy) earning money that they don't really know what's worthwhile to spend it on, how to use it to actually pay for experiences of happiness (it's not automatic), or contribute to local communities. They just sit isolated in their designer castles, wondering why they have everything and nothing at the same time. It's lonely at the top...

IMO I don't think your lack of overwhelming material wealth is necessarily a problem. It's our toxic definition of "success" -- equating greed with happiness, when they are totally different -- that makes people feel "less than" when in reality they have so much and could have so much more. Don't chase the dollars that add up to nothing in the end, chase the moments and memories you'll remember well into your 90s. Just my 2 cents.

  • Akcium 2 days ago

    I wouldn't say it's "just your 2 cents". It's more.

    Thanks for this. Really.