Most of us have a tendency to think about the things we don't have rather than the things we do. We often envy those who have something we lack rather than pity those who are far less fortunate than we are. I am guilty of this myself at times.
For example, I live near a stretch of school zones that takes a good 30 minutes to get through during rush hour on a bad day. Sometimes my drive to work (and back home) takes an hour -- mind you, I'm driving a distance of a little over 8 miles. That's how ugly the traffic gets here.
On these bad days-- it happened this morning, actually-- I feel the temptation to begrudge those who have a quick, easy commute. But then I stop and remind myself that there are many people in the world who would take that long commute in a heartbeat if it meant they could have a car to drive in -- or a home to drive to.
Far too many people envy friends, relatives and neighbors with bigger houses, flashier jewelry, or more luxurious cars.
What escapes them is that none of these things, as I've elaborated on in prior posts, make us happy in the long run. If they did, you wouldn't have so many rich celebrities and professional athletes with drug addictions and so many other problems.
What does make us happier is being appreciative for what we already have. Comparing yourself to those who are struggling out there -- of which there are far too many, unfortunately -- makes you happier about your current state. You then think,"Hey, I really don't have it that bad."
We need to stop assessing our lives through a lens of envy and competitiveness. Let us instead appreciate how blessed we are and look to help those who need a helping hand.
At the end of the day, what do you think will make you happier: buying a 60-inch flat-screen TV you probably don't need, or giving someone money to buy the first real meal he's eaten in weeks?
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with trying to move up financially and buying yourself things here and there. After all, we work hard for our money.
My main point is that some of the things we complain amount to little more than minutiae in the grand scheme of life.
Whenever we feel the urge to complain about traffic, not liking the food at a restaurant, or battling a cold, just remember: There are people out there whose lives are far worse.