But Not All of the Time

Any case
in which people pursue
a single great experience or accomplishment
that occurs infrequently
or perhaps not at all –

a Holy grail,
an impossible dream,
a brilliant model,
a great white whale –

is a case of
a positively skewed distribution
in which they may be
predicted to be

unhappy
most of the time.

From the book Social Comparison Processes: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives (1977) edited by J.M. Suls and R. L. Miller. In the chapter “Pleasure and Pain of Social Comparison,” pp. 149-186. Submitted by Kate L.