It's human nature to compete with one another, and it's one of my least favourite qualities, in myself and in my friends and family members. There is a healthy side to competing because it pushes you to be your best, but the downside is the endless bragging about your own accomplishments in the shadow of someone else's, and that type of competition is driven by insecurity.
I hate it when I fall into this trap. I try to avoid it at all costs in the mothering realm, where other moms push me all the time to find out where my kids are on their imaginary scale so that they can determine where their own kids fall. This kind of competition has no winners. Someone always feels bad because their kid is behind, and someone always feels superior because their kid is ahead, and both are dismal outcomes.
In the work realm it's a little trickier. We all have different seasons in our lives, times when things are going outrageously well, and times when we are down in the dumps. No one is immune to these ebbs and flows, but often when we are down, we look to take others down with us. Misery loves company, and all of that. It's a bad idea. I think it's a truly enlightened and generous person who is struggling with their job satisfaction but can still be happy for someone in a successful career phase.
It's important to remember that when someone is feeling optimistic and excited about their work, they didn't always feel that way. No one can sustain the mountaintop for a long period. The key is to rejoice with them, knowing that it won't last, and then you can commiserate with the person when they hit a snag. True friendship does this; celebrating together in the high times and crying as a team in the low ones.
I celebrate those friends today. I talked with 2 of them yesterday, women I love and respect who are unfailingly supportive. I hope and pray that I am as supportive of their aspirations and dreams as they are of mine. They give me an example to follow. And where people aren't so supportive, by chipping away at your excitement and accomplishments, grace is required. I must remember not to take it personally, and not to do the same thing to others.
It costs very little of ourselves to be genuinely happy for other people, but yet we are often grudging with our praise and support, as though it takes away from our own accomplishments. This world would be so peaceful if we could understand that giving to others doesn't mean taking away from ourselves. It's actually the opposite: the more we give, the more we receive for ourselves. In theory it doesn't seem to work, but when you practice it, you find that it does. Rejoicing with other people adds to your own life, instead of taking away from it. I'm going to work on that today.