In baby terms, they're in a higher Sesame Street tax-bracket. What injustice! How dare your parents deprive you of the grandest life possible! All that previous gratitude you were experiencing before, the feelings of love and acceptance suddenly goes out the window. You're angry at this slight; this new revelation that someone else in life is better off than yourself. So you cry and cry for hours at a time. It's not that you're getting deprived of your daily milk intake, or siblings' care. But it's the horrors of recalling your experience at the mall---the baby with the Elmo shoes.
Now this scenario sounds a bit bizarre for adults like ourselves. Babies don't care how well other babies are doing, or do they? Maybe they're doing a good job of concealing it. Often times, we go through life wearing a mask. As a result of insecurity, inferiority or depression we seek to be somebody we're not. We want to fit in, be welcomed, be adored. At any cost, we're battling for that acceptance. And the struggle is with others, unbecoming to ourselves, who are battling for the same thing. Actually, the Elmo baby is having some of the same feelings toward another baby in that same mall. And all these babies grow up, but many of those same feelings linger on. So we continue to play this cat-and-mouse game with each other. We even get good at it. It's just that we never seem to quite catch up, no matter how hard we chase.
All of a sudden, our lives become a continuous rivalry that's overwhelming and super-consuming. It's seemingly unending, and we can't ever find the breaks to this cycle. It goes something like this: the kid down the street just got a new toy, so we bug our parents night-and-day for a new toy; then it's a new bike, so we repeat the same nagging system to dad or mom for that bike. Then we grow a little older and it becomes the video game console, designer clothes, jewelry or shoes. As we age the discontent becomes more apparent, more expensive. Now it's a luxury car, Ivy League college, or budding career where we can climb some imaginable ladder for worth and acceptance. Next, it's that dream wedding, VP position, mansion in the suburbs and beautiful kids. And the cycle starts all over again with making our kids just as entrenched in this cycle as we are, their hopeless parents.
Eventually it has to stop; someone in the family has to wake up and cut the umbilical cord to foolish rivalries. Your neighbor has more toys (cars, boat, vacation home, etc) than you, so what! Your kids aren't the best in every sport, so what! You're not married to the love-of-your-life, so what! Life goes on and none of these things were ever meant to be a sole means to your happiness, gratitude and contentment. On the contrary, they may end up bringing misery, hopelessness and discontentment if you look for them to fulfill your life. They're not designed to do that; they're just stuff, lots and lots of stuff. Ask yourself: "How many trophies will be enough? When will I be totally satisfied with my appearance, looking in the mirror with freedom? What will bring me true happiness, not the fleeting kind?" After you've sat down and thought about it for a while, your answers may surprise you. And if you exchange rivalry comparison for gratitude, you find your life is much better off than you first thought.
"For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." 2 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6 NKJV