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Giving Others Greater Esteem

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4/22/2016 7:14:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Last night, while talking with a friend of mine, I told him an increase in the minimum wage would effect the worth of higher paid workers. My explanation for this went along these lines: Most people measure themselves against others; of course, they would rather see themselves as either better than others or at least equal to them; for instance, a factory worker making $20, an hour, believes one's work should be valued at almost three times the minimum wage; right now, in America, the minimum wage is $7.50, an hour; however, if the minimum wage were increased to $15, an hour, and the factory worker's hourly wage remained the same, the factory worker would only make a quarter more than those making minimum wage; the job would quickly lose its value, by comparison; and, in order to continue attracting factory workers, employers would have to increase the amount of money they're willing to pay.

Now, the question that plagued me, today, was: what if we took the same theory and applied it to self-worth? In other words, in comparing oneself to others, does one's estimation of others affect the individual's self-esteem?

To illustrate, if I had a very low estimation of someone else, it would take a smaller degree of appreciation for myself to compete than if I had a higher degree of appreciation for the same person.

However, it seems counterintuitive that the esteem I have for others actually increases the esteem I have for myself. Most people believe the key to self-esteem is comparing themselves to others who seem to be less worthy of appreciation. In other words, a middle-class person is relatively comfortable in comparison to someone who is poor.

This may be true, but in comparing oneself to someone who is poor, there is a greater tendency to accept one's lot in life. However, if the middle-class person compared oneself to a rich person, there would be a greater tendency for the acquisition of wealth. This principle does not only work with monetary wealth, but anything we could imagine. For instance, if I were twenty pounds overweight and I compared myself to people who were forty pounds overweight, then, my being overweight would seem less significant; or, if my grade point average were 3.0 and I compared myself to people who had a grade point average of 2.0, then, my grade point average would look rather attractive. In belittling others, we are in fact shortchanging ourselves. In esteeming others, we motivate ourselves to live better lives.

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