Ever look at your friends/family members/spouse/colleagues and rate their accomplishments in the different aspects of life (career/mating/wealth/intellect/looks..etc) and then compare yourself to them? Then based on how you rate amongst them, you'd either get a sense of satisfaction or an immense feeling of inferiority? Ok, I guess this is a stupid question, because I am sure everyone does that, to some extent at least. But here's my question, what if the people you hang out with are all 5's in the different areas, and you are an 8.. This would probably boost your ego-meter and self satisfaction, and you'd live happily ever after.. or at least until you start hanging out with 10's, then you turn into that underacheiver and you'd probably start working harder to improve your rating so that at least you'd be comparable to your peers.
I could hear you saying that this is no ground breaking discovery, it is just common knowledge and as they say, birds of a feather, flock together. All of this is true but I find it really shocking just how far we are influenced in our judgement, of how successful or happy we are, by other people. So if I grew up in a family of Ph.D.'s I will always feel like a loser because all I have is a multi-million business, but no degree. Or, if I hung out with health-freaks, then i will be forever be waiting for that heart attack because I had an order of fries 2 weeks ago..
I wonder if there are people out there who have their own measures/standards of success that are not affected by other people's definition of what's success and what's not. But then again, I think this is impossible in an absolute form, because our core belief system stemmed from standards that were instilled in us by our environment growing up. And I believe this explains the differences in life values between different cultures, that place different importances on the different sides of life. Of course, you could grow up and be exposed to different cultures, change your beliefs, but then again you're still basing your judgement on other people's standards.
So I guess they weren't wrong when they warned us from hanging out with the bad kids when we were younger! Just think of it, a person who smokes may either feel that he has bad habits if he hangs out with non-smokers, or may feel that he is extremely good when he hangs out with druggies. It is really dangerous how many decisions we made in our life subconsciously based on how good/bad people around us are doing.. I think I am going to change the saying to Flock together, acquire same feather :P