Do you find it difficult to be happy and optimistic in your daily life? You are constantly comparing yourself to others and becoming dissatisfied when others surpass you. Here’s everything you need to know about happiness and displeasure.
The evolutionary psychology of social status and envy.
So imagine this: you go into the mail room at work and there is an envelope from your boss. Of course, you rush to your desk to unlock this super fast. Did I do something wrong? Did I do something particularly right? Are you being asked to play an important role within your organization?
You can get to your office and open that envelope in record time. It is a personal letter from the President to you congratulating you on your recent accomplishments and thanking you for your dedication to the organization. It ends by stating that you will receive, immediately, a base salary increase of $10,000 per year. Fabulous! Didn’t expect this! You can’t contain your joy at this wonderful news!
You take a picture of the letter and send it to your spouse, who also works for the same organization. She came back with a text message with a picture of a message she just received. Today too. Also from the head of the organization. She is awarded a base salary increase of $12,000 per year for her accomplishments. In the next hour, you will learn about similar messages received by many of your colleagues. and get this: In each case, the increase is greater than your increase!
An hour ago, you were bursting with joy at the news of your upbringing and recognition of your great work. Now, after a brief 60 minutes, you are grouchy and planning to go home early to avoid seeing Everyone who are you working with. Your joy quickly turned into shame and embarrassment. You never want to see any of them again!
As you drive home, you call the only person in the world who might make you feel somewhat better at least in this moment: your mother. Mom, of course, congratulates you and tells you that she considers this great news! And that you should focus on your positive result. Hey, I just got a raise of $10,000! This money will make your whole life a lot easier for the rest of your days. good for you!
After you hang up with your mom, you find that your emotional state instantly turns into a partying state of pity. You find yourself unable even to be happy raising your spouse. The money from her pension will directly benefit you and your children moving forward.
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To understand why so many of us feel more negativity than positive emotions in the above example, here’s a thought experiment. Which of the following would you prefer to have?
A: You get a raise of $9,000 and no one else gets a raise or a raise of $5,000
B. You get a raise of $10,000 but everyone else gets a bigger raise
If you’re a human being like us, there’s a good chance, in fact, that you’ll choose option A.
Of course, in the absolute sense, this is ridiculous. The more money the better, right? Obviously, $10,000 is more than $9,000. So in terms of your stake, you should choose option B. But let’s face it, an individual’s salary is largely an indicator of an individual’s position within an organization. And with so many economic indicators in our world, salary often has less to do with a superficial level job (how much money you get) than with an individual’s standing and value within society (see Frank, 2005).
Related topics: Social Comparison – A two-sided sword that we must be careful about