Children always think their brothers and sisters are favored and battle their parents over the unfairness of it all. A familiar hue and cry in my own family was, “How come Dennis gets to go out and I don’t?!?” My father would bark back, “Because he’s older and a boy!”

This hatched a childhood resentment. That’s normal for children as they learn the difficult lesson that life is not always fair. Unfortunately, many adults continue thinking this way.

In my work, I see similar battles in workplaces all over the country. When we compare how we are treated to the treatment others receive, we plant the seeds of resentment in ourselves. And because human beings would rather be right than happy, we dedicate an inordinate amount of time and energy to cultivating our indignation.

“Our feelings of contentment are strongly influenced by our tendency to compare.”
~His Holiness The Dalai Lama
The Art of Happiness

Because The Law of Attraction is absolute, we attract only what we focus on. We quickly unearth lots of “evidence” that we are being treated unfairly. We expect to be treated unjustly and the Universe and those around us deliver. We are actually leading this dance when we think we are being victimized.

Before you start comparing your circumstances to those of others, please remember that looks can be deceiving.

The fact is, we never know the entire story. Looking at others and drawing comparisons, we can only know what we can see. From my own narrow, childhood perspective, I couldn’t see that my father didn’t necessarily think boys should have more privileges. Rather, my 6’4”, 220-lb. brother could look out for himself in the world in ways that I could not. Now that I am a mother myself, I understand my Dad’s reasoning.

When I first met my oldest foster daughter at the group home where she lived, she was 15 years old. She used her long and greasy hair to hide her face. When I did get a glimpse of her expression, it could best be described as “sullen.”

As I got to know my daughter and looked beyond her behavior, I discovered a terrified little girl who was trying to be an adult. The more frightened she was, the more she “acted out.” Had I compared her to politer and more easy-going teens, I might have thrown her away instead of adopting her. What a tragedy that would have been! Today, at 31, she is well-spoken and intelligent and an active and productive contributor to her community.

Similarly, we often throw people away in the workplace, judging them strictly on only what we can see. But we’d be wiser to bear in mind a wonderful message I once saw on a t-shirt: You cannot hate someone whose story you know.

Resentment is one of the biggest barriers to personal happiness. As I explore the sources of dissatisfaction in the workplace, the culprit is most often insidious comparisons. We continually look at others and worry that they are getting benefits or preferential treatment denied to us.

Soon we’re angry and react with punishing behavior. Yet, ironically, we are actually punishing ourselves, growing sick with resentment. It is as if we take poison, hoping our enemy will die.

Instead of resenting that others are better treated than you, why not assume that there are things you don’t know about their situation and may never know? Have faith. Life is actually incredibly fair. It delivers to each of us whatever it is that we choose to focus on.

So, instead of counting everyone else’s blessings, start counting your own. There will be many more than you suspect.

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