Have you ever envied someone else's good fortune? Consider the friend who calls with a different ring to her voice. Instead of sharing her troubles and woes, she proceeds to tell you good news. Something exciting, financially beneficial, glamorous, wonderful beyond belief has happened in her life. It's not a fantasy. It's one of those rare moments when a dream has come true.
"That's wonderful," you may say, meaning every word. At first.
"Why her?" You may later think. "What about me? When am I going to get a break?" As hard as we may try not to feel that way, a little jealousy, envy, and self-pity replace the joy we felt for our friend.
Most of us want other people to be successful and happy. We really do. That's not the problem. The problem comes when we think they're going to be happier or better than we are.
Sometimes we know when we're envying and resenting others. Other times it's a subtle undercurrent that we're not aware of, but it invades our lives. It may only be a slight feeling of smugness when we hear that something unfortunate has happened to someone we perceive as being more fortunate than we are.
Goodwill isn't just the name of a secondhand store or a phrase used in songs during the holiday season.