Comparing Oneself to Others

There was once a social experiment where people were made to choose from two scenarios. In the first scenario, you would be given $200 and five of your friends will be given $500. The second scenario would have you receiving $50 and five of your friends will be given just $20. The result of the experiment showed that most respondents would rather have just $50 dollars instead of $200. Why? People can be envious of other people’s good fortune. 

In discussing envy, the Gospel today tells the story of workers who were envious of other workers. Why? The group that worked for only one hour received the same full day’s wage as those who worked longer hours. 

Hence, three reflections about the reality of envy:

  1. Don’t do things for money.  When we do things because of money, the money will always be the basis for our decisions. Further, it will also be the basis on how we see ourselves. When other people have more money than us, we become uncomfortable and envious. Eventually loneliness and ungratefulness set in. When we have more money than others, we have this illusion we are better. 
  2. Each person has his or her own calling. If one does things because he or she has a passion for it, happiness follows. As the saying goes, “If you love what you’re doing, you don’t have to work a single day of your life.” Yes, when you have passion for things, blessings follow. 
  3. People before money. In the same Gospel story, why was the landowner generous to those who only worked for an hour? The landowner knew that if he gave them less than the minimum, they would not be able to feed their families. Hence, he gave them the minimum because people are more important than money. 

Hence, we always pray that we may: 

  • Be grateful for all our blessings, whether in plenty or simplicity. God blesses us according to our calling.
  • Be faithful to our calling. This is the source of true happiness.
  • Be a good neighbor: Rejoicing in other people’s good fortune and empathizing in their misfortunes in life.

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