“Thou shall not covet…”
Oh, the broadly known tenth commandment. But this is not a religious post; this one is about happiness.
Today, we are talking about coveting: the desire, with envy, of something for ourselves that we do not have.
I’ve been there and done that. I’m pretty sure I still do every now and then.
When I chose to stop taking actuarial exams, it wasn’t long before I saw my peers get promoted 1 to 3 levels above me. The work and responsibilities were the same. And my performance compared theirs was similar. Notwithstanding, I saw them move up the ladder and I started wondering why?
Maybe it was the fact they passed more exams than I did once I stopped taking them. But isn’t work more important than a piece of paper stating I passed a given number of exams? Ultimately, I carried this envy for some time and developed resentment against the system and everyone in it. Why could I not have the same thing when I’m performing at the same level as them?
The funny part of this story is that I was the only one that cared. While I was getting angry, the rest of the world kept doing its thing. I was sad; they were happy.
There’s Always Someone Better
The “coveting” thief wants us to think that happiness is when we do or have more than others. It makes us believe we lose our value when someone else appears to have more than we do.
I have a question for you:
Take a moment to really think about my question. I have 2 thoughts about it.
1 – The External Cannot Fix The Internal
I truly believed the promotions and the raise would have made me happier. Sure, the recognition and the money would have helped but was not going to fix my stress levels, the long work days and the lack of satisfaction with my life.
2 – I’m Not Built To Handle Your Talents
I’ll use an analogy. I like to think we are miniature versions of solar systems. Each of us with our own set of rules and laws.
- Maybe in my system, planets have to turn counterclockwise; but in yours, they turn clockwise.
- In mine, the bigger planets are closer to the sun; in yours, they are farther away. And, so on.
If I were to take away one of your planets and place it in my solar system, it would wreak havoc to the entire structure. Or it could be worse, your planet would get destroyed because it doesn’t work with my laws or rules.
It’s a silly analogy but I think it gets the point across.
As it turns out, several years later, those promotions I missed on don’t even matter because I now know it is not my purpose to be an actuary.
I summarize it all with the famous quote attributed to Mother Teresa,
I can do what you can’t do, and you can do what I can’t do; together we can do great things. ~Mother Teresa
My journey is not meant to be the same as yours. What gives me happiness is not what you have but what I can give and do with my talents.