Why do we concentrate so much on the negative, while spending little time on the positive? Why don't we calabrate more and coommiserate less? Why are ninety-five persent of lead news stories covring some combination of ill will, disaster and misfortune? Why does misery love company? Why is the backed up line in traffic willing to slow down and gawk at an accidend so many magnitudes higher than those who would think to stop and offer assistance?
I have a theory...
Somewhere early on the life (I don't know exactly when) we unknowingly come to eccept that success is relative. We assume the belief that success..good fortune..any instance of accomplshment is not absolute. As such the degree of meaning can only truly be measured in comparison with the accomplishments of others. At some point in many of our lives we subconsciously learn that doing well is only half the battle. The real question is are we better of than those around us? early on we begin to adopt these concepts-eventually to become the fondation of our life-long competitive spirit. As children we are thought it is not as important whether the race produced everyone's personal best - who came in first...who is the most popular..who got the teacher's gold.
We learn the importance of acceptance. We learn that success is only relevant if it is relized, accepted and even acknowledged by others. We eventually graduate from gold stars, awards and trophies to job littles, ever bigger houses, more expensive cars, etc. - all prominently displayed to bear witness to the relative value of our effots..of our being. I had a discussin with a six year old recently in which I wanted to know why she had been running in the street,. She informed me that each morning the kids raced to the bus stop and she really wanted to be first. I asked why it was so important and she responded (with ears in her eyes), "I'm never finish the race first". So I asked her "What do you get for finishing first?" with that her expression (and mood) dramtically changed, as she relized "nothing".
Don't get me wrong...sometimes life calls for the conpetitive spirit. sometime it's perfactly necessary to match your talents..your wts against other with opportunity for meaningful reward. It's the other ninety-five percent of the time that we need to think about. Why does misery love company? if my theory is corect, it's because if you are doing bad., by definition comparatively I'm doing that much better. it's the reason for all carnage on the nightly news and the popularity of many of the afternoon talk shows.
Parent, family, the educational system and society all, knowingly or not , serve to nuruture this mentality beeginning early in a child's developmental atages. It's not good enough to know that the child talked or walked - we need to know whether they didi it at a pace that bested other toddlers. Before long the child learns not only to compete for admiration of the parents (often to detriment of siblings) finally stepping up to kingdergarten and the quest for the gold star. Whether through grading curves, spelling bees, science fairs, school fund raises, organized athletics, etc. each child gets their turn to be indoctrinated into the concept of "Winners and Loers". They quickly learn that the pain of losing accurs much more frequently than the pleasure of winning - eventually determing the most effective way to be winner is to ensure others lose. Misery doesn't really even like company...it just wants to know that someone else is doing even worse.