Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sour grapes

I'm always taken aback by those who begrudge other people's success. The extreme bitterness and jealousy that often goes with it is astonishing.

Sometimes it's understandable. If someone manages to get a promotion or a plum job or a glamorous assignment that you feel you should have been given yourself, then of course you're likely to feel royally pissed off for a while.

But a general tendency to trash other people's achievements, maybe something they're worked hard for over a long period - where does that come from? Why the need to put the boot in?

I'm really pleased for someone when they succeed at something they've long been aiming for. I'm happy they've finally got what they wanted after years of frustration or despair or self-doubt. I'm glad they've finally cleared all the hurdles and reached their goal. Why wouldn't I be?

I'm especially pleased when someone has managed to give up something that was badly harming them - alcohol or drugs or an abusive relationship or a stressful and unrewarding job. I love it when they've found the strength and self-confidence to move on and improve their life.

Even if someone's success isn't hard-fought-for but has just fallen into their lap - like a lottery win or a sudden inheritance - I still don't begrudge them their good luck. Okay, I'd enjoy having a huge pile of cash (who wouldn't?), but I'm doing okay as I am so why should I care?

I have no problem with someone who's successful - unless they're rubbing other people's noses in it. That's what really makes me mad.

PS: A classic case of begrudgery. The opening night of Gordon Ramsay's new restaurant was sabotaged by a rival making 100 fake bookings.

22 comments:

CheerfulMonk said...

Amen to that! Whenever I catch myself feeling envious I figure it's time to see what's missing in my own life and do something about it.

Bijoux said...

Hmmm...well, I do agree with this, but your July 8th post about Hard Work seemed to say the opposite of this post.

Maybe you are saying you are only happy if the success has nothing to do with financial success? Unless they win the lottery?

Nick said...

Jean: I agree. Perhaps the begrudgers need to look at their own life and work out how to improve it.

Bijoux: Ooh, well spotted - such attention to detail! I guess the answer is that sometimes hard work pays off, sometimes it gets you nowhere. But if a person's lucky enough to achieve success (and as I say, sometimes it just falls into their lap), why do some people begrudge it so much?

Nick said...

Bijoux: I suppose my attitude to financial success is that I disapprove of people having astronomical amounts of money when others are destitute. But I still don't begrudge them the money, I just wish they would use it to help others instead of hoarding it.

susie said...

I have faults,but I don't think I am an envious person.

That restaurant sabotaging sucked.

Nick said...

Susie: You don't strike me as an envious person. Just FINE, ha ha! (Sorry, folks, private joke there!)

Grannymar said...

Envy and jealousy seem to go hand in hand. Down the years I have noticed that those who begrudge the good fortune of others, are troubled by unresolved issues from years earlier, sometimes as far back as childhood.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I don't begrudge people success and I also don't feel good for the if I don't know them. I guess I'm neutral most of them time.

Helen Devries said...

My husband's sister and brother begrudge him any success in his life. I tend to categorise people as tractors or trailers. He's a tractor, doesn't depend on anyone else and does all he can to make his life work.
They are trailers...hanging on to others to see what they can pick up. They are very good trailers, they pick up a lot, but none of it comes from their own ability.
I begrudge the income of those running financial institutions because it seems to me that that income is unjustly obtained. Apart from that, if people are successful, whether by ability or by luck, then that's fine. I just wish the playing field were more level to allow more people success.

Nick said...

Grannymar: I'm sure that's often the case. Childhood hang-ups can fester for many years.

Agent: Me too, I feel good for people I know personally, whose struggles I've seen at close hand, but not for strangers.

Nick said...

Helen: I like the tractor and trailer metaphor, that's very appropriate. I know a few trailers, that's for sure! You're right, a lot of people's wealth is unjustly obtained. But it's not the wealth that bothers me so much as the sheer greed that prevents people passing on some of their wealth to the less fortunate.

Ursula said...

Why do you believe Ramsay? What if there really were only fourty solid bookings for opening nights? Oh, the shame of it. So, your inner PR makes up a little story to save face and dignity.

It doesn't make sense: If you wanted to sabotage someone's endeavours you'd be a little bit more subtle than all paths pointing back to you. No wonder Ramsay doesn't wish to "name" his rival. There isn't one.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: You could be right, he may have made it up. Who knows?

And the rival wouldn't necessarily be identified if the fake bookings were all under fake names and fake phone numbers.

Rummuser said...

We have a political situation here now where one non establishment type has become our PM and the establishment types simply cannot stomach his success, Some concoctions like him taking twenty thousand admirers to Sydney are being aired by otherwise sane establishmet types!

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/how-genuine-are-the-crowds-at-pm-modi-s-functions-abroad-questions-salman-khurshid-621749

Nick said...

Ramana: Yes, the establishment types absolutely hate it when a non-establishment outsider gets a plum position. I think there was a lot of Tory animosity towards Prime Minister John Major because he hadn't been to any of the posh colleges and left school at 16 with 3 O Levels.

Nick said...

Ramana: Just looked at your link. Perhaps the 20,000 people simply admired him and came to hear him? How exactly would he take 20,000 people with him around the country? He'd need a huge fleet of coaches or trains!

Wisewebwoman said...

I've never understood the begrudging either, in fact I do like to bask in another person's success, it is so wonderful to be around the thrill of it all.

And catching up with you - the bad sex awards? a long time ago I'd heard the best writing about sex was in the conceal and never the reveal, so very true.

Imagination, she be wonderful.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: That's it, it feels good to be part of the whole exciting atmosphere.

I'm not saying sex should be concealed, I'm just saying that fictional descriptions of it are usually absurd travesties of the real thing.

Eryl said...

I wonder if some people feel that when someone else has some success it lessens their own chances, or something like that, as if there's a finite amount of success and another little bit has gone the wrong way? Or perhaps they feel it makes them look bad, showing up how unsuccessful they are?

I'm flailing about here, I'm not sure I've ever given this any consideration before, but I think I'm usually pleased when I hear someone did good, it gives me hope.

Nick said...

Eryl: You may not have considered it before, but I think both your explanations are spot on. The begrudgers definitely feel hard-done-by, and want to undermine those they feel are undeserving of success.

susie said...

I am FINE. ;) How come I can't post under my original comment?

Nick said...

Susie: I don't have that facility. Not sure if it's even possible on this ancient template. I must check it out.