How working with more successful people make you depressed and how to stay happy working with them?
If anyone tells you that you are the average of 5 people you work with, It’s not always true.
When you are around highly talented and successful people, you are likely to get demotivated and depressed.
These successful people can be good as well as bad for you.
Fortunately, there is a way to stay with such people and become successful without feeling depressed and unhappy.
In this podcast, you will know how to find the right successful people that can accelerate your success even if you feel dumb among them.
What mental health experts makes wonder in developed and rich countries?
It’s been noticed that some of the most developed countries USA, Australia, Japan have a higher ratio of patients of depression and anxiety. They consume far too many anti-depressants. Surprisingly, underdeveloped and developing nations are found happier. The countries like Brazil, Somalia, Mexico, Iraq have lesser number of patients who suffer from depression and anxiety. They have reasonably better mental health than the rich and developed countries.
Something is even more shocking!
The developed countries have a higher rate of suicide than the underdeveloped and developing countries. The rich countries have good nutritions, opportunities, lesser hardships and lesser life-threatening situations. Whereas the people in poor countries have the problems of starvation, poor medical facilities and in some countries, they have a constant battle between life and death such as Iraq, Somalia, Palestine.
It’s not about the countries but it also applies to us and people around us.
People who are rich are feeling far more depressed and unhappy compared to those who are struggling to fulfil their basic needs. You or some people around you have also experienced the same. In a developed country, where the average IQ is high and they are considered more intelligent than the underdeveloped countries. It’s been said that we are the average of 5 people we spend time. In developed countries, people are considered more successful. But they are also less happy than underdeveloped countries.
But why does our success makes us unhappy?
There are some psychological studies that can prove that we feel unhappy when we are having what most people don’t. But isn’t it necessary to grow and prosper!?? Of course, it is. We must develop and become better. There are some ways we are going to discuss that can make us successful and happier. There are also some ways to deal with the problems along the way that keeps us going ahead and help us stay happy regardless of any big problems.
In this podcast, we are going to discuss 3 things.
- Why many successful people are surprisingly not happier than most poor people?
- How can you be successful and be happy too?
- How to deal with any big stressful events and still be happy?
Let’s dive into the first part.
A famous social scientist called, Samuel Stouffer conducted a very big survey on American soldiers.
He asked more than half a million soldiers to fill up a questionnaire. He didn’t ask 5-10 questions. He asked more than 200 questions. That’s a lot of questions. The questions were about various aspects such as their facilities, wages, succession program and many more. Then all answers were compiled and were examined. After doing the survey, Samuel Stouffer came to a conclusion.
He was surprised by the results.
He realises that many soldiers who were in the higher cadre were found unhappy. Whereas the soldiers who were in the lower cadre were found happier than the higher cadre soldiers.
How can it happen?
The lower level soldiers aspire to go to a higher level because they think the higher they go, their life becomes better. Army officials at the higher level gain more authority, respect and prestige. They also compare themselves with other officials at their level. The soldiers at a high level, their competition is not limited to the soldiers in their unit but with the more units. The growing competitions make them frustrated. It gets difficult for them to climb higher in the hierarchy because the number of positions is getting smaller and more people are chasing the dream position. It’s not the same as the bottom level. That’s why the soldiers at the bottom level are happier.
Many people are shouting at social media to level up your game or 10X your game.
There is a flip side of growth. As soon as you go higher and become more successful, your competition never ends. In fact, it increases and it gets brutal. This phenomenon is called ‘Relative deprivation theory. One weird thing they found. Soldiers in high-status units were generally less happy than soldiers in low-status units doing grunt work. Even though high-status unit soldiers had better career opportunities and were regarded in high esteem, they were unhappier. And that’s because the soldiers measure themselves based on their immediate surroundings. They would compare themselves with other soldiers within their units – and not the whole army.
You have probably heard that you are the average of 5 people you spend time with and it’s not always right!!!
Your talent will not help you if you are surrounded by highly successful and talented people. If you are surrounded by highly talented people or competing with them, it will also have an opposite effect. You will relate yourself with them and you will not feel smarter. It will make you feel dumb and feel nervous about it. Success in life is not correlated with how smart you are, but how smart you ‘feel’ relative to people around you at your level. So, should we spend time with or work with more successful people or not? The answer is ‘YES’ and ‘NO’. Let’s find in the second part, shall we?
I was reading the book “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell.
He presents some interesting research on how students who want to study say engineering perform at Ivy League, means some of the prestigious schools vs less prestigious schools. More, than half of all American students who start out in science, technology, and math (STEM) programs drop out after their first or second year. To get a sense of who is dropping out-and why let’s take a look at the science enrolment of a school in upstate New York called Hartwick College. Now, I can’t share the exact statistics here. Because it’s long and in so much detail. You can find on google.
They observed something strange.
The students in the bottom third of the Harvard class drop out of math and science just as much as the students at Hartwick. And, Harvard has the same distribution of science degrees as Hartwick. There is a group of students who have around 600 on the current SAT exam. Some of them attend Hartwick and some attend Harvard. Each is studying the same textbooks [in general] and wrestling with the same concepts and trying to master the same problem sets in courses like advanced calculus and organic chemistry. But, the majority of Hartwick students [who had a 600] get what they want and end up as engineers or biologists.
But things were not the same with Harvard students.
The Harvard students [who had a 600]-go to the far more prestigious school-are so demoralized by their experience that many of them drop out of science entirely and transfer to some non-science major. The Harvard students who scored 600 are little fish in a very big and scary pond. The Hartwick students who scored 600 are big fish in a very welcoming and small pond. What matters is not just how smart you are. As we discussed in the first part, It’s how smart you feel relative to the other people in your classroom.
Now, the question remains the same. Should we have people around us who are sharper and more brilliant than us?
According to Malcolm Gladwell, It’s good to be a big fish in a small pond. But it may not be a good idea. It works in both ways. It can serve you as well as destroy you. If you have equally or more talented people in your team, they can lift you up. They can improve your standards. They will motivate you to perform better. The energy in the team makes you productive. They also make you believe you are an above average.
But, they can discourage you too.
More skilled people around you will demotivate you because no matter how hard you try, you find it difficult to outperform them. If you consistently fail to reach their level. It makes you feel dumber. When you constantly gauge your performance with successful and talented people around you, it makes you feel inferior. These emotions can drag you down. The reason richer countries have higher suicide rates than poorer countries is that unsuccessful people in those countries can’t cope well. An unsuccessful person in Japan could retire and live a lavish life in Iraq. But that doesn’t matter if he can’t cope with his feelings of failure in Japan. How to deal with this emotion of feeling dumb and low against others? How to feel a happy and great person in a room full of smart and successful people? Let’s find out in the third and final part of the podcast, shall we?
Disasters can have a life-altering impact on the individuals and families fortunate enough to survive them.
Whether it’s 9/11, Tsunami, earthquakes, bomb blasts, the effect of natural disasters can be felt at the community, city and country level, or many times can impact psychologically. Many people feel really depressed after the experience. It becomes very difficult to come out of the trauma.
Sometimes it takes not only days but years to recover.
I know someone who narrowly escaped the terror attack on 7th July 2005 in London. She was in the same tube train at Liverpool Street Station where one of the bombs exploded. She was severely depressed. It took her almost a year or two to recover. People who directly experience tragic events face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They keep getting traumatic memories. It’s quite important to learn to deal with such depression.
Israel deals with such people effectively.
Israel has seen more such bombings and attacks and it happens frequently. They send the mental health experts along with the medical team. The way the first-aiders provide basic but crucial treatment immediately before the intensive medical treatment, the same way, such mental health experts provide Psychological First Aid.
This Psychological First Aider does two important things.
Firstly they put the victim with their loved ones. So that they feel warmth, secure and don’t feel alone. This helps the victim to diffuse traumatic feelings. If it’s not done immediately, it can create a long-term adverse effect.
Secondly, they ask the victim to narrate their experience.
They ask to verbalise what they feel. It helps to alter the meaning of the pain. They change the label of the feeling. Once they change the meaning of the pain, it also creates another less-threatening or most of the time comfortable meaning.
That’s what we need when we feel dumb or demotivated whilst working with people who are smarter or more talented than us.
We need to associate ourselves with people who give support, care and sense of belongingness. We need people who help us to minimise the intensity of the pain of rejection or demotivation. Yes, if we spend time with 5 talented people, we become talented too. But, we also need to know how to deal with feelings of being dumb against them. If they lift us when we are down, you can accelerate your success. That takes us to the end of the podcast. Let’s quickly summarise what we have covered.
Some psychological studies can prove that we feel unhappy when we are having what most people don’t.
Of course, it is. We must develop and become better. There are some ways we are discussed that can make us successful and happier. And also discussed the ways to deal with the problems along the way that keeps us going ahead and help us stay happy regardless of any big problems.
In the first part, we talked about how Your talent will not always help you if you are surrounded by highly successful and talented people.
If you are surrounded by highly talented people or competing with them, it will also have an opposite effect. You will relate yourself with them and you will not feel smarter. It will make you feel dumb and feel nervous about it. Success in life is not correlated with how smart you are, but how smart you ‘feel’ relative to people around you at your level.
So, should we spend time with or work with more successful people or not?
Well, in the second part, we found out that more skilled people around you will demotivate you because no matter how hard you try, you find it difficult outperform them. If you consistently fail to reach their level. It makes you feel dumber. When you constantly gauge your performance with successful and talented people around you, it makes you feel inferior. These emotions can drag you down.
Now, How to stay with sharp and talented people without feeling depressed?
Well, You need to associate yourselves with people who give support, care and sense of belongingness. We need people who help us to minimise the intensity of the pain of rejection or demotivation.
Yes, if we spend time with 5 talented people, we become talented too. But, we also need to know how to deal with feelings of being dumb against them. If they lift us when we are down, you can accelerate your success.
Read next: We take illogical actions when we do what others are doing. We need to think and act independently without others influencing us. So, you can take better decisions. But what if we can not get escape from the illogical crowd?
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