I recently had a conversation with someone who was feeling bad about his financial situation. I’ll call him Trevor but that isn’t his real name. Like most of us he’d made financial mistakes and felt bad about them, especially when he compared his situation with a person (I’ll call him “Fred”) he knew who was about his age and far better off financially.
The thought came to me today that I wonder how things would have turned out if Fred had been born into the family, conditions, and situation that Trevor had, and vice versa. Would each have turned out like the other in this life? Would they be better off, worse off, or about the same? I believe the answer is unknowable–and that’s my point.
Comparing ourselves to others is a natural thing to do, but perhaps not the wisest way to invest our time.
When I catch myself doing it, I tend to remind myself of some words I heard once many years ago and took to heart. They go something along these lines:
‘Envy is nearly always the result of a lack of understanding of the other person’s situation.’
Over the years I’ve learned there is much widsom and truth in those words. As with so much of what I’ve learned in life, I don’t know who coined that phrase, how or where I heard it, or even if I’ve quoted it correctly, but I believe the gist of it is accurate, profound, and powerful. It has certainly helped me to keep things in perspective when I’ve been tempted to throw a Pity-Party for myself or to gloat about how I might be “better” in some way than someone else.
We all have burdens and we often try to do the best we can with what we’ve got. When I focus on this, and on counting my blessings for all that I DO have, I find that I’m much happier than when I focus on what others have or that I don’t.
Speaking of envy, I’ve heard that of all the Seven Deadly Sins the least logical is Envy, because it is the only one where you don’t get anything for it!