Imagine you’re in a classroom. The teacher announces an upcoming test will determine 100 percent of your grade and is going to be graded on a curve. That means, the worse other’s do compared to you, the better your grade will be. Would you help your classmates’ prepare? Studies show your answer is likely “no.” It’s called zero-sum thinking, i.e., when someone wins, someone else must lose. Unfortunately, many people look at life with zero-sum thinking — and it’s working against them.

When it comes to happiness and wealth, someone else’s gain is not your loss.

The problem with zero-sum thinking is it not only makes unhappy, unsuccessful people more miserable, it also can make moderately happy, successful people stop reaching for more happiness and success. How is that possible? Think of the last time something really great happened to you. Did you feel guilty? Did you stress over what others would think about your success? Did you play down your happiness for fear of a negative reaction from others? If so, then you let zero-sum thinking take over your mind. While I’m not suggesting you brag or lack humility, I am saying your reaction indicates you somehow felt like you were taking away from the success and happiness of those around you — and that is simply untrue.

The most successful and happy people adopt a “growth mindset.”

The reality is there’s an abundance of happiness and wealth in the world. As long as you don’t go after success at the expense of others, you can take your happiness and wealth to new heights. In fact, the growth mindset helps super successful people realize the more happiness and wealth they acquire, the more they can help other do the same. And, when coupled with immense gratitude, they’re able to stay positive and focused in order to accelerate and multiply their success.

P.S. – Most career problems stem from zero-sum thinking.

I’ve spent more than 15 years studying why people hate their jobs. Choosing the wrong career path makes people miserable. Then why does it happen so often? People focus too much on trying to impress others with their careers. Zero-sum thinking makes them believe when others are succeeding, they’re losing. They make career choices in hopes of earning respect from those around them because then they’ll feel like a winner. Careers aren’t a race or a competition, yet most people treat them that way. Meanwhile, truly successful people who are satisfied with their careers don’t fall into this trap. They know better. Instead, they’re solely focused on building a career that impresses only one person: