- You think you’re rich? Ask Mark Zuckerberg.
- You’re poor? You’re actually richer than most of the world.
- Too dark? Never an issue in Hawaii.
- Too pale? Go to Korea.
- Fat in Asia? Skinny in America.
I can go on and on, but I don’t need to because your mind already does that for you. We all make statements in our head that seem true to us, but really it’s because we compare them relative to something else.
Let’s say you were always smart. But you were smart relative to your kids in your neighborhood growing up. If you end up going to Harvard, the level of intellect drastically rises that you might not feel so smart and gifted after all.
So how can you feel so certain at one point of your life, then flip flop to the other? Could you be smart relative to your neighborhood students, but dumb relative to Harvard students?
Another example is when people gain more wealth, the very same people move into richer neighborhoods because they can (and I would too). With richer neighborhoods, come… even richer neighbors. Someone who makes $15 million a year, may still feel poor because his neighbors make $50 million a year even though $15 million in absolute terms is a lot!
We can also see this in beauty and attractiveness. When I studied abroad in Korea, one of my first impressions was how ALL Korean women were beautiful. However, it’s funny how after 6 months, I started to notice little features and differentiate beauty amongst Koreans. Your mind will adjust to the relative beauty of your surroundings.
Albert Einstein discovered one of the greatest theories of all time. The General Theory of Relativity and Special Relativity (stay with me here). In a nutshell, events that occur to one observer occurs differently to another observer because they are comparing the events relative to themselves.
Basically, your experience is unique and is relative to you, the observer. That is why light, when observed, will always be at a constant velocity no matter how fast you’re going because it is always relative to you.
Just like light, there are certain things in life you can never reach and should not compare yourself to. There will always be someone richer, smarter, prettier, wittier, more charismatic, more likeable, etc. than you. When everyone tells you to be the best version of yourself, what they mean is to stop comparing yourself to others.
Stop looking outward, but rather, improve yourself and look inward. Stop trying to change the world, but change yourself first.