It’s a common adage that when the chips are down, you know who your friends are. That’s a common misconception. It’s actually the reverse – you know who your friends are when the chips are up; in other words, when things are good.
A few examples…
- A struggling musician hits it big; all of a sudden, he feels the jealousy of fellow musicians. Why him and not me?
- A recently married women gets a phone call from a divorced friend. The divorced friend wants to meet up for coffee to catch up on old times; in reality, she wants to sew the seeds of discontent in her “friends” nuptial bliss.
- A man travels abroad to experience a wonderful adventure. When he returns home, he feels the anger of his coworkers who cannot afford a trip.
A successful man (or woman) is the true enemy of the world. That’s because for the vast majority of people, success is a difficult thing to obtain. When it comes to their jobs, many people are locked into professions they despise. They’re not chasing their dreams (or even worse, don’t have dreams to chase). When it comes to their private lives, most people are also unhappy – they come from broken families, have broken marriages, etc.
And so your good fortune is a threat. It’s a mirror that shows the prince to be an ogre, the princess to be a withered shrew. It ignites the worse parts of humanity – envy instead of admiration, critique instead of praise. There you come, Mr. Sunshine, with a pep in your step and a smile on your face. Your new job and beautiful girlfriend. You might as well be a German panzer on the Champs-Elysees.
A good friend once told me, “Whatever people tell you, the reverse is true.” The more good fortune I find, the more I’m reminded of his words.