Would You Trade Places With Someone Else?
I previously asked “What are some things you’ve done that few other people have?” as well as “Would you live this life again?”
Consider this a companion post. On their own or as a set, each of them offers potential to help you feel good about yourself by reducing your sense of envy or comparison to others.
We all know we’re not supposed to compare ourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy, as they say, and for once an old saying holds up. Envy is misery!
Yet just because you know something is bad for you doesn’t mean you’ll stop doing it. People self-harm in many ways, after all.
So whenever you notice you’re feeling envious of someone, here’s a new model to try. It’s very simple:
Ask yourself if you’d trade your life for theirs.
That’s it. Would you give everything of yours for everything of theirs?
Beware, however! You can’t just trade for their success or money or beauty—or whatever features you find compelling—you have to trade for everything.
Whatever hardship they’ve known in their life is now yours. Whatever consequences they experience from previous bad decisions they’ve made are yours. You own their wealth, status, and power—and also their shame, regret, and anything else that you might not want to pick up.
Similarly, just as you’d inherit everything from someone else in such a complete trade, you’d also give away everything of yours.
Think about the highlights of your life. Consider people you’ve loved, places you’ve been, and experiences you’ve been fortunate to have. All of that would be gone. If you saw an old friend on the street, you’d want to wave and say hello—but if you did, they’d meet your gaze with a perplexed look. You traded your life away, so it’s no longer connected to theirs.
Even if you’re discouraged about something, doesn’t the thought of losing all of those good moments make you less likely to want someone else’s life?
No Changes for Me
The more I thought about trading places, the less I wanted to swap with anyone—and that realization feels comforting!
In fact, it’s hard to think of anyone with whom I’d like to fully trade lives. Possibly a few extremely famous people like Paul McCartney and Barack Obama come to mind, but that’s about it. Certainly no other author or internet person, which is whom I’d typically compare myself to and then feel discouraged.
Besides, I don’t feel envious of people like McCartney and Obama. They’re in a league of their own, and thus excluded from any negative feelings I might have about myself.
Therefore, you now have the solution to comparison envy: ask yourself if you’d trade your life for theirs.
Just remember: you can’t only trade some of your life—you have to trade it all. Chances are, it’s not worth it!