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When friends succeed, and you feel jealous || Acharya Prashant, at Christ University (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
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Questioner (Q): Good afternoon, Sir, I am Nitu. So, my question is, in today’s world of social media, we often see a friends and peers do so well in their life. How do we not take this in a negative way?

Acharya Prashant (AP): You mean how not to feel jealous.

Questioner (Q): Yes, Jealous or take it in a negative way.

Acharya Prashant (AP): When there is a life to live, there is work to do, there is something to love; Where is the time to be jealous and negative and hurt? Where is the time to stop at a moment and keep pondering over what all has apparently gone wrong. You are young. The next thing is now waiting for you. The next moment is available, the next opportunity has flung open its arms.

What do you get by just repenting over something that seems to have not worked for you and has worked for somebody else. The point is not that the other has seemingly done better than you. The point is, how do you have time to waste over somebody else's work or life or performance or whatever? That person is doing what he or she might want to do. What are you doing? That fellow succeeded because he or she was concentrating on the work he chose for himself, right? So where's her mind? Her mind is in her chosen field of work and that's the reason there is success.

And you are occupied looking not at yourself, but at somebody else. Where will it take you? Now, this I have said, assuming that the success of the other person is in the field of proper work. That, the other person success actually means something. But you mentioned social media.

So, it is possible that what you mean is that the other person has posted a pic in which she is looking very attractive, hot or glamorous and that makes you feel a little small in front of her and that too often is the case. It's not that we feel jealous only when somebody secures great marks or a great job or publishes a great paper. More often than not the reason for jealousy is something else. Somebody has posted a pic from Paris and gathered 1200 likes and I never got more than 200 on anything I ever posted.

Now what to do? Here is a suggestion. Open anonymous account, go there and troll. Social media is full of such stuff. If you want to be a hater, social media is the best place, there you can anonymously abuse. Is that what you want to do? Is there any dignity in such an act? Yes, but jealousy is what will make you stoop to such depths.

First thing, there is nothing wrong with comparison. Pay attention to this. There is nothing wrong in factually acknowledging that somebody is doing better than you. It's okay, that's a fact of life. In the mathematics paper, somebody obtained 91, you obtain 84. 91 and 84 are facts.

And wherever numbers are involved automatically comparison is there. That is number theory, 91 is greater than 84, that’s okay, acknowledge that. If you are playing a tennis match and you are trailing two sets to one, it's okay. Its 2-1 in the opponent’s favour.

So, comparison as such is not a problem, the problem is when you take the comparison right to your self-value. When you make the comparison reflection of your self-esteem, when you say, it is not as if my marks are lower, I am lowly, now that is the problem. Your marks might be 84 compared to somebody 91.

Honestly, do acknowledge that, yes, that fellow has done better than me. My marks are low or small. Somebody's marks are higher, his marks are higher. That does not make the person higher. My marks are lower that does not make me lower.

My performance is bad, my potential is not bad. These two have to be simultaneously remembered and both have to be acknowledged at the same time. Your fact and your possibility. Usually the fact, is not up to the mark. None of us performed our potential most of the times, and that has to be acknowledged. Don't be an ostrich. Don't start looking the other way, when your performance is bad. Acknowledge I have done very badly let that sink in and if that hurts, let it hurt. Yes, I have done very badly.

And even as you admit, you have done badly, remember, doing badly is not your destiny. Your potential is far bigger. So, your performance, your current performance and your potential have to be remembered in the same breath. Together, if you remember only your potential and keeps saying I am a superstar, I am a superstar, I’m born to be the Lord of the world then you will totally forget that in spite of your potential right now you are down in the dumps. And how does your potential help if your lived reality is very bad. Thus, potential help then? Potential has to translate into action, into the fact of the moment. So, just remembering potential alone won't help, it will make you arrogant and oblivious of the reality.

Similarly, if you remember only how you currently are and have forgotten what you can be, what you are destined to be then inferiority will grip you. You will feel so disappointed you won't even give yourself another chance. You will say I'm down and that's all that there is to it. I am down. I am small, lowly, inferior, defeated. And that is all that is there to my existence.

Remember these both. Honestly accept you have done very badly and then say not next time, I will improve. I will improve! And in this, there is not much room for another person. It’s you versus yourself. So, what will there then to be jealous of? There is me and there is my potential. And the competition is between only these two. So, who else is there to feel jealous of? There is nobody else and that is pure Vedanta. There is only your little self-versus your Ultimate Self. There is nobody else.

Technically, they're called mann (Mind) and ātman (Soul). There is your current reality and there is your ultimate potentiality not inferior to anybody else's. Only these two exist and hence any comparisons must be made only between these two. All others are secondary. Looking at somebody else's marks of performance or salary or success is useful, but only in a limited way.

You can look at them just to get a clearer idea of where your current performance stands. That is the only utility. Beyond that, the others are not a benchmark. You are born alone; you will die alone. What will you do with others? When you face pain, it is you, who passes through it, who lives through it. Are you getting it?

So, comparisons are alright to the extent they help you see where you currently stand. But when it comes to having destinations, targets, your target or destination cannot be somebody else. You cannot have the face or thoughts of your competitor always in your mind. That does not work. And that is also undignified.

If somebody is face is always circulating in your thoughts, then you have turned that person into your de-facto God. Now, that person is no more a competitor. He has become your God. If you are thinking about someone all the time, that person is your God. Why are you turning a person into your God? Why? There is no need.

4 is greater than 2, let that be a fact. Let that not become your internal condition. 91 is greater than 84. That is the fact. I acknowledge it. I came to know of it, I learn from it. But I cannot let this become my permanent internal occupation that fellow 91,91, 91. No. Why think of 91, why not think for 100? Your potential does not stop at 91. Why do you want to arrest your progress there from 84, I want to go 91. Target 100? Maybe then you will strike 92. If you target 91, you will always fall short of 91. World, the world has to be very delicately utilized. On one hand, you cannot ignore how the others are doing. You have to have your eyes open. You need to see how your classmates are performing. In business, how your competitors are performing. What's going around in the world. You need to have a sense, an idea of worldly affairs.

On the other hand, you cannot allow the world mean too much to you. There has to be a tightrope walk. It's a delicate thing. Know how things are happening. Have a good idea. Don't be an ignorant fellow. But don't let that possess you. Don't become dominated by the world. As young people, we want to live free, don't we? Or do you really enjoyed being dominated by others?

So, one form of domination is when somebody starts having a permanent seat in your mind. Do not let your competitors or friends or enemies or anybody have a seat at the center of your mind. Nobody deserves that seat. The center of your mind must be a free, clean, and empty place and that alone is called freedom. Somebody you are jealous of so that fellow becomes the center of your thought. Then somebody you are very attracted to, that fellow too becomes the center of your thought.

Both these situations are equally bad. In friendship or in enemy, in admiration or in jealousy, nobody should mean so much to you that the name, the face, the person becomes your life. That is the worst kind of slavery possible, avoid it.

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