Looking Forward To Other People’s Success

The temptation is to think that the world is zero-sum. In our selfishness and ambition, we can sometimes see that someone else winning is our loss and someone else’s failure is our gain. The closer these people are to ‘competing’ with us, the more this temptation is there.

But that’s not a formula for happiness, for wisdom or for success. As Seneca observed, it’s possible to learn to “rejoice in all their successes and be moved by their every failure.” This is what a virtuous person does. They teach themselves to actively cheer for other people—even in cases where that might come at their own expense—and to put aside jealousy and possessiveness. What they find, in fact, is that this doesn’t come at their own expense at all. It makes them better. And that other people’s successes only provide opportunities to learn, to expand the industry or field you’re in and to challenge yourself. As for their failures? Only an asshole roots for other people to fail.

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