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Want to Be Happier? Science Says Avoid the Effect of Relative Deprivation on Fulfillment and Satisfaction

Research shows comparing yourself with others can be the quickest path to dissatisfaction. But there are two comparisons that can make you happier, especially over the long term.

My friend "Mark" (not his real name, for reasons that will become obvious) used to run a thriving home health care business. Fourteen million dollars in annual revenue. Enviable profit margins. 

And, not incidentally, happy employees: In an industry where turnover often averages more than 20 percent, over 90 percent of his employees had been with him for more than five years.

Then he spent a day at a boutique equity firm; while he didn't accept its offer, he did walk away convinced he needed a fancier office to reflect his own success and status.

Then he spent a resort weekend with friends, and came home convinced his family's semiannual camping trips pretty much sucked in comparison.

Then he joined a CEO Peer Group and realized he was the only member who didn't have a personal assistant. Why should he have to endure the drudgery of entering his own appointments when his new friends enjoyed admin-free lives?