I am visiting my family and recently went shopping with my sisters and my two nieces, ages 5 and 7, which are cousins. We had several different things we were shopping for but my nieces were both shopping for outfits for their dolls. When we got to the store with the doll outfits and accessories they were both excited and happy and began picking out the things they wanted. My 5 year old niece picked out several small items to make a couple outfits for her doll and my 7 year old niece had picked a larger item and a smaller item. Both were completely present and engaged in picking the things they wanted. When we were ready to go my 7 year old niece noticed that the 5 year old had more items than her, even though they were smaller and less expensive. She immediately lost all joy in the items she was getting for her doll and wanted more because my 5 year old niece had more items. She started complaining and fussing and the shopping trip was no longer fun for anyone.
We can recognize and laugh at this in children, but how often do we do this to ourselves? We can be completely happy with what we have and then destroy our happiness by comparing ourselves, or what we have, to others. The truth is that we are all individual and unique. We can never be, nor should we be, the same as someone else. There will always be people with more than us and less than us. How can we stop this behavior from destroying the joy in our lives?
We can practice gratitude. We can look at all the things in our own life that bring us joy and that we are grateful for. Being grateful for what we have increases our joy. Instead of comparing ourselves or what we have to someone else, we can be grateful for what we have and be happy for others that may have more than us. Just by doing this small practice we will increase what comes to us and we will feel joy in our own life.