Playing the comparison game is one of the things human beings do best. We spend a lot of our time comparing our capacities and careers and possessions to other people, wishing ours was different, or more.
But what we don’t realize is, we’re only envying people’s presumed happiness. We’re only comparing ourselves with people’s idealized versions of themselves. And we have no idea what’s going on inside of others.
And so, anything we say about ourselves in relation to them will be unfair, biased and only focused on a place outside of ourselves.
In the same way that our doctor tells us to drink plenty of fluids when we’re sick, we need to let gratitude flush out envy. Here are a few strategies.
- Instead of beating ourselves up about how much farther along the journey someone else is, take an inventory of how far we’ve come.
- Instead of resenting people for receiving more recognition than we have or feel their work deserves, send them a note with heartfelt congratulations.
- Instead of cursing the unfairness about whose dream gets more attention, show an appreciation for the fact that we even have room to dream in the first place.
Obviously, not all in the same day.
This practice of letting gratitude crowd out envy is not an easy one to practice.
It requires deep imagination, optimism and trust.
Basically, a total reframing of something that comes naturally to us.
And that’s what the gospel does in us.