Do people need to compare themselves with others in order to appreciate what they have?

SAT Essay -

We cannot appreciate what we have for its own merit. We see ourselves as fortunate only when we have as much as, or more than, other people. Thus, our judgment of what represents an appropriate limit on anything—on wealth or status or possessions—is never arrived at independently. Instead, we compare ourselves to other people, always wondering if what we have is enough.
Adapted from Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety

Do people need to compare themselves with others in order to appreciate what they have? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

2011/3/30 11:06:56

Posted by DoctorZ | 阅读全文 | 回复(1) | 引用通告 | 编辑

Re:Do people need to compare themselves with others in order to appreciate what they have?

Sample SAT Essay of Score of 6 –



We all tend to evaluate ourselves by examining others’ opinions, to evaluate our own achievements, abilities, positions through comparison to those of others. We particularly concern about those similar to ourselves: similar in level of education, age, income, social class and background, so called our peers. The tendency to compare oneself with some other specific person decreases as the difference between that person's opinion or ability and one's own become more divergent. Our self-esteem, self-satisfaction, self-worth, and ultimate self-valuation, all seriously depend on our relative performance comparing to our peers. The fact we are number one among the peer group is far more satisfactory than we are simply doing better than the average. But why? Why it matters at all?


In my opinion, not all human tendencies are reasonable and justified. This is one. Our personal achievement will never be truly satisfactory if it has to be put into and justified by comparison with others, since there is always someone out there who is simply more lucky, if not more capable, than we are. Even the champion will inevitably be surpassed by the next champion. Yes Bobby Fisher, Kasparov, Spassky were all the undisputed greatest world chess champions ever, yet they all eventually were defeated by something that is so unexpected but unavoidable – a computer, which is designed by mere engineers who know nothing more than digits like 0 or 1s. If all that matters is to win, to outperform and become a champion, then, we should all quit, right here and now. Safely speaking, no matter what game we play, a machine, yes designed by ourselves, eventually will beat us in our own games, if we are truly smart (if you know what I mean).


So I say, stop. Stop evaluate our worth by comparing to others. True worth in fact can never be evaluated through comparing with the peer, since if that reference exist, then the true value disappears by definition. True value exists because it is truly unique, unequal, unparalleled, never existing before, never repeatable after – that is what we mean by uniqueness. Man in fact is unique. Every individual can never be reproduced, no matter how genetically advanced our technology is. There is simply no second Michael Jordan, no second Newton or Einstein, no second Shakespeare or Mozart. There is simply no second you or I, who was equipped by completely different genetic coding sets, walked completely different path of life, enjoyed completely different formulation by nature and experience. Every single word we spell, single sound we make, single word we write, single sight we cast, resonates complete different echoes in the world, all picked up, indexed, appreciated, treasured, and existed in the universe, witnessed by our peers, loved ones, God, and eventually ourselves, forever.

2011/5/29 22:57:19

Posted by doctorzhang | 个人主页 | 引用 | 返回 | 删除 | 回复


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