You’ll Be Richer Acting Like A Living God
Jealousy and selfishness can be significant problems. I am not interested in the morality aspect of it, I am talking in economics sense. If you can be just a little more selfless and be less jealous of what others have achieved, I can guarantee you will wake up tomorrow richer than you are today.
Economic models assume people are rational and hence jealousy should not be in the equation, which is why economists assume that our utility are purely constituent from our own consumption and choices that are formed by the information available to us. What an ideal world when we can be so self-centric and care less of what others are doing. This is not the case in real life with jealousy, for a significant number of us, our utility depends on others’. You see your ordinary primary school friend winning renown awards, you attributed his success to luck. Remember the ex-boyfriend you dumped in 10th grade? He’s a millionaire now. I bet you’re not very happy. Your Facebook friends posted pictures of their vacations while you are buried in library studying, you reassured yourself they will fail their exams.
Those feelings are human nature. But is it of any good? No, if your welfare is a function with negative correlation to the welfare of your haters, your ex-bf/gf, Mr. Always-the-smarter-one, Ms. Always-posting-happy-things-on-Facebook, Ms/Mr. Always-travelling and so on. There are so many reasons people can piss you off, and many of those reasons have nothing to do with you, sometimes they are even unintended for you to feel anything. You may realise, that since you attributed these factors into your utility function and it’s a negative component, most of the time you are losing welfare/happiness in real terms. Because you have no control of others’ life, you’ll have little control of the unexpected emotions if you do let them interfere in your decision making and level of happiness.
What kind of losses in real term would jealousy bring about? As you “invest” time and emotions into jealousy, you’ll receive a “negative return” because those time and emotions are not productive. Think of your friend Cherry from high school. She used to be so fat and ugly, but her latest Facebook picture was like a C-cup model with like hundreds of likes and comments. Do you care? Yes you do, because someone else has improved so drastically when you’re still stuck at the same you as of yesterday. Would you make positive return from those feeling? The chances of Cherry knocked at your door, hand you £10 and say, “Thanks for your hour being jealous with me. Here is your £10 return as of the market rate of your working hour”, is pretty low.
Some can argue that jealousy can sometimes be productive because it may initiate motivation. Now that you’re done being jealous with Cherry, maybe those feelings will drag you to the gym. However, I believe jealousy is not a good source of motivation. If your motivation comes from the achievements of others, you’ll never be as good as them because you’ll forever chasing their shadow while they are moving forward. And the stress that you’ll always behind will drive you crazy.
Who can be purely selfless? No one, or at least no rational cognitive human being. Surely no one expects you to be a living god, I am just discussing about the benefits of you to act like one, more specifically, be “more selfless” to others “at the right time” and “in the right place”.
What is the selfish mind-set? There are two types of people in the world – the baker and the eater. The eater believes that if they don’t eat fast enough and with large bites they will lose out and that their share of the cake will get shrunken. The eater believes that the partners who are sharing the cakes with them have the same desires as himself to occupy as much as possible of the pie, then come the “Cake War”.
On the other end, we have the baker. The baker believes there is no rush in sharing the pie, if it is finished he can bake more! The partners can take as much as they wants and that the baker is happy that at least the guests are enjoying his pies. Then come the “Cake Corporation”.
If you want to get rich, be a baker. Because rewards in life is not bounded within one cake. It comes in multiple directions, multiple forms, from multiple people and in multiple points in time. The eater cannot control the outcome of the game because it’s a hostile one, and because he is not productive. The baker can be sure the outcome of the game is peace, satisfaction and reciprocal benefits, because he shares with others and that he is productive.
When one person X asked you if you can give him the contact of Mr. Big-Name that you know, if you say No and keep it to yourself, you’re thinking like the eater. A baker in this case would understand that by introducing X to Mr. Big-Name, now suddenly there is a new link in your network. You make X happy, and next time he is willing to return you a favour. When you meet Mr. Big-Name, you can talk about X when you both run out of topic. It’s a win-win situation.
You’ll be richer acting like a living god
Perception creates reality. If everyone else believes you are the “nice guy who will go extra miles for others”, you’ll be one to anyone new to you. Why does it make you richer? Because people:
- Like to deal with those with good reputations
- Believe that you won’t take advantages of them (at least from your reputation)
- Are selfish and jealous and is tired of interacting with other selfish and jealous individuals.
Nothing in life comes for free. You either have to work for it, or make others work at it for you. The cheapest commodity we can exchange for others’ trust is the sense of selflessness and that you don’t judge or are jealous with them. So that’s one way you can make others bring values to your life, whether it’s opportunity, new contacts, good reputation or gratefulness. Think of your time is worth £50 each (or at whatever multiple you like) and stop wasting it on unproductive feelings like jealousy. And selflessness teaches us that if you value your hour at £50ph then you should value (or more importantly, appear to value) others’ at £100ph or more.
Just a smarter way working around things.
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Illustration: Franz Xaver Winterhalter (German, 1805 - 1873), Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, German, 1843.
Copyrights: Open Content License from J. Paul Getty Museum