Think back to your days in school. When you were taking a test, to prevent anyone from cheating, do you remember what the teacher would say?
“Keep your eyes on your own paper.”
With everything that’s going on in the world and how easy it is to compare ourselves to others, this advice still rings true today. We are in a crisis where our successes and livelihood has never been more available for other people to see. And equally their success has never been easier for us to see.
But as you’ve heard before, what we see from others doesn’t represent the full truth and it leads to an incomplete understanding of how people are living. It's the comparison to that which makes us feel worse about our own.
Whether you've ever cheated on a test before or not doesn’t matter in understanding this concept. To look at someone else’s paper in this day and age means to desire exactly what someone else desires, do exactly what someone else is doing, and achieve exactly what someone else has achieved. That was the purpose of cheating on a test - Not to use their answers as a way to help you understand but to blatantly copy it.
And this influence is broader than you realize. It’s not just your favorite thought leader that influences you. It’s your friends, family, and co-workers. You hear about what they’re up to, or are impacted by what they want from you, and it causes you to shape your life for them and not for you.
But as you know, there’s no ‘right answer’ for life and certainly not one way to do it. But the best way is your way.
Let’s go back to the analogy. What’s a better, more ethical way to get a good test result without copying someone else’s answers (and that’ll serve you in the long run)?
Don’t just blindly copy what other people are doing but observe it, learn it, and understand it so that it informs you in how you want to make your own decisions.
In this test that is life, keep your eyes on your own paper, but also find the smartest people in the class and use their knowledge to give you your best chance at succeeding!