Is mine bigger than yours?

Carl Richards is a Certified Financial Planner™ and creator of the Sketch Guy column, appearing weekly in The New York Times since 2010.  The following article is reproduced with permission from his weekly newsletter and his website can be found here.

Greetings, Carl here.

We are obsessed with comparing ourselves to others.

This is pointless behavior, of course. How other people are doing has nothing to do with how you are doing. But it’s what we do.

Don’t believe me? Consider this:

Researchers from Harvard gave participants two options:

1- Earn $50,000 per year while everyone else earns $25,000.
2- Earn $100,000 per year while everyone else earns $200,000.

People were told to assume that everything else (like the economy, the value of the dollar, etc.) stayed equal. So, more money meant the ability to buy nicer things.

Obviously, you’d pick Option 2, right? Of course we would want more money, independent of what everyone else had.


Half the people in the study didn’t want more money… they just wanted to have more than everybody else, even if it meant having less overall.

That. Is. Crazy.

It also shows just how competitive we are. We’ll sacrifice our own well-being just to do better than someone else.

My advice? Stop thinking about everyone else. It doesn’t matter how big anyone else’s house, truck, or 401(k) is… because they aren’t you.


P.S. As always, if you want to use this week’s sketch, you can buy it here.