Dear Next Generation: ‘Choose Contentment Over Comparison’

January 29, 2021 Updated: January 29, 2021

When my son was 4 years old, he loved all things “construction” and was in his glory when he received a yellow plastic dump truck for his birthday. Jumping up and down excitedly, he begged me to take him to the park right away. At the sandbox, his eyes sparkled with delight as he made “vroom vroom” and “beep beep” noises, filling and emptying his truck with sand. He was in a state of utter bliss and could have played with his truck for hours. But, all of a sudden, he glimpsed something behind me and his face clouded over. I turned to see another boy arriving at the park. He was holding a dump truck: it was big, red, and had flashing lights and sounds. The glee my son had experienced only moments ago was replaced by disappointment, as he looked at his smaller, more “basic” truck. Pretty soon, he asked to leave and go home.

We are all going to be given different gifts throughout life—a talent for music, or a best friend who really understands us, or living in a safe, friendly neighborhood. When we notice, appreciate, and fully enjoy the good things we already have, we experience contentment. We are satisfied with what we have, and feel grateful.

On the other hand, when we compare what we have or what we do with others, we often lose that sense of satisfaction and happiness. Any time we compare, we either feel superior or inferior to another, and that is a guaranteed way to feel discontent and unhappy.

In this age of technology, comparison is especially rampant on social media. It may seem like your peers all go on fabulous vacations, or frequently show off shiny, expensive things. It can be difficult to remember that we are all blessed, in different ways, and that a staged, filtered photo online doesn’t always represent a person’s true story.

Keep yourself in a state of contentment by reminding yourself every day of things you are thankful for. Affirmations such as “I love going fishing with my family” or “My new pink sweater feels so soft and cozy” instantly transports us to a place of appreciation and joy. It can be challenging work to choose contentment over comparison, but your life will greatly benefit from keeping your eyes on your own good fortune!

Melanie Ely, Ontario

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Dear Next Generation,

One of the most offensive conversations I had still resonates in my mind. I was working for a tooling company, as a customer service representative. Basically, I assisted customers with their tool purchases. One day the boss called me into his office and asked me a question. I answered the question and then he said this: “Who are you talking to? Look at me when you talk to me.” I was in my 20s when this occurred and I have to shamefully admit, I was embarrassed. My feelings were hurt, and I didn’t like him talking to me like that. I did not realize at the time how low my self-esteem was and how terrible my communication skills were.

Young people, in this age of technology where everyone is communicating on their phone, texting, posting, and even dating, the fundamental art of honest communication is falling to the wayside. As hard as it was for me back then, it is even harder now. I have spoken to many people throughout the years, and many of them do not look you in the eye when they talk to you.

The advice my boss gave me that day changed my life and my confidence. Conversations are vital. When Jesus recruited His disciples, they walked together, they talked together. There’s a popular saying, well at least it used to be popular, that goes “Keep it real.” When you are communicating behind the protection of a phone or computer, it is not real. Dating online is not real. Look people in the eyes and talk to them. If you have never done this, as I hadn’t those many years ago, it will be hard at first but trust me, you can do it!

Mark Augustine, California
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What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?

We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong, and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time, and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.

Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to NextGeneration@epochtimes.com or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001