Cherish What You Have Instead of Envying Others

Text loosely translated by | Oh Puay Fong 
Original Chinese article (published in Awaken issue 47) , 《不必羡慕别人 守住自己拥有》written by | Ah Yu (阿雨)

Have you heard of this fable?  Once upon a time, a pig said, “If I could be reborn, I want to be a cow because although the cow has to work hard, it has a good reputation, and the humans take pity on it.”

The cow said, “If I could be reborn, I want to be a pig because the pig eats and sleeps the whole day and does not have to toil hard or sweat, living a charmed life like a god.”

The eagle said, “If I could be reborn, I want to be a chicken because the chicken has water to drink when thirsty and food to eat when hungry. The chicken also receives shelter and protection from humans.”

The chicken said, “If I could be reborn, I want to be an eagle because the eagle soars high in the skies, coming and going freely across the seas as it hunts for rabbits or chickens.”

This is the irony of our lives, aptly described as the grass is always greener elsewhere.

We often unconsciously envy what others have. We envy others’ jobs, our friends’ new houses, and strangers’ cars, while overlooking the fact that we may be the target of their envy too. Actually, everyone is envious of somebody else. People often wish that they may wake up one day and be magically transformed into a certain type of being. Perhaps it is because we are all painfully aware of regrets in our lives, that we keep comparing ourselves to those we think are living ideal lives, taking them as our life models. In fact, this world is imperfect, even those we envy have their own dissatisfactions. Every family has its own problems and difficulties, but ego makes us strive to present our best face to the world. Who can really tell what is truly going on behind the splendid façades?

Often, the rewards we get in life are proportionate to the responsibilities we are prepared to bear. Everything, like a coin, has two sides; every positive has its negative. Humans, especially women, tend to compare themselves to others, and only make themselves upset in the end. Why not compare with oneself instead? Ask yourself: Have you improved? Have you gotten closer to your own life goals?

So encourage yourself regularly. This will spur you to do better. Who knows? The people you envy may be envious of you. There are people who deserve our admiration, but it’s not entirely because they have so much more than us. Rather, it’s because they are astute at managing available resources. The reason we envy others is because we aspire perfection, and we wish to live better lives. However, we miss the point that everyone’s situation is different and that it is not possible to replicate another person’s life. What we can do instead is to learn to overcome our own shortcomings by observing others’ strengths. Instead of being envious of others’ happiness, we pay attention to how they create their happiness. Instead of being envious of others’ good fortune, it is more constructive to learn how they achieved it.

Stop envying how others are doing, but count the opportunities you have instead. You will realise that what you have far exceeds what you lack. As for those missing bits, even though lamentable, they are part of your life experience, learn to accept this fact and adjust your attitude. Your life will be happier and freed from so many cares.

There really is no need to be envious of others. Cherish what we have. Consider carefully what we really want, then we can be truly happy.