He always got the better gifts for Christmas.

I grew up in a large family and both my parents worked low-paying jobs. When I was eight years old, my childhood best friend lived right across the street, and I remember always coveting the gifts he received at Christmas. He received things that my parents couldn’t afford to buy for their kids.

One Christmas, I badly wanted roller skates. But instead of getting the boot kind with nice rubber wheels, I got what I called Frankenstein skates. These were made of cheap steal and attached to the bottom of a shoe. My best friend would be in the next county before I made it down to the end of the street!

Another year, I wanted a remote-control airplane but on Christmas morning, I received an airplane that I had to swing around on a string. Of course, my friend’s plane was much nicer than mine.

No matter what I received, I always wanted what he had.

His family had a beach house. We had a pop-up camper. They had a Ford Bronco. We had a Ford station wagon. He went to a private summer camp. I went to church camp. The kids in his family all had their own rooms. I always shared a room with one of my brothers. If I wanted a new bike, I had to earn money to pay for it. He seemed to always get what he wanted, and it was either nicer, bigger, or better than whatever I had. I was jealous.

Early in my speaking career, I remember a similar jealously. Some of my colleagues had incredible stories that made them unique. Some were gifted musically or had other talents I could never have. Some played professional sports, won gold medals at the Olympics, or had theater or comedy successes.

Maybe you feel as I did – someone always has something you want or is always more talented, makes more money, has a more prestigious job, is better looking, is more attractive, or is in better shape than you.

This is a trap that we must avoid. While our age social media has made it much easier, but the comparison game is a human inclination that has plagued mankind forever. And it will afflict you too unless you can destroy it.

My childhood friend experienced hardship that I never would want. Some of those in my speaking network experienced tragedies and difficulties that made their successes look a lot less tempting. Those polished and curated pictures posted online don’t tell the real story.

No one has a life that is perfect. Be grateful for what you have. Don’t let jealousy and the comparison game ruin your happiness.

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