Way back in my seminary philosophical study in ontology (a branch of metaphysics that deals with the study of “being, existence, and reality”), there’s this Latin maxim, “Ens est unum, bonum, verum, et pulchrum.” Every being is one, good, true and beautiful.
More often than not, we wish to be like others or even better than our more successful peers and friends. We focus on their success, such that we fail to notice our own greatness.
In other words, we see only the external indicators of the success of others—their impressive houses, high-paying jobs, glamorous careers, flourishing businesses, influential positions, etc.—and, worse, make their success the measure of our own. At the very least, we forget to ask ourselves: “With all they have, are they truly happy?” Or: “Would we be truly happy if we have what they have?”
Still, we often hear the admonition: “Do not compare yourself to others.”
But the fact is that we cannot help comparing ourselves with others. After all, each one of us was born into a different set of circumstances of which we had neither choice nor control.
As we grew up, not all of us enjoyed the same resources and opportunities. We don’t get to attain exactly the same level of recognition and success either. Indeed, as I write, each and every one of us still lives under different sets of circumstances.
The problem with comparing ourselves with others is that, in most instances, we tend to focus on the “negatives.” How better others are than us. How more financially and materially blessed others are than us. How more talented and skilled others are than us. How “luckier” others are than us. How more successful others are than us. Et cetera, et cetera.
It is indeed a problem when we make others the barometer of our own success and self-fulfillment, and we fall short by that measure.
But wait: It is important to realize that by virtue of our divine origin and design, each of us is endowed with some inherent greatness. Each one is divinely endowed with individual gifts and purpose.
To restate our opening maxim, “Ens est unum, bonum, verum, et pulchrum.” Every being is one, good, true and beautiful.
Hence, our own greatness lies in our individual uniqueness, purpose and gifts. Each of us is God’s unique miracle, as shown by our unique palm—and fingerprints or marks. All we have to do is find and discover our unique gifts, which can be gleaned from our individual life-purpose.
By acknowledging and valuing our individual uniqueness, purpose and gifts, we can likewise positively recognize and respect, and not be envious of, those of others.
In this manner, we can positively realize as well that being “here” or “there” in comparison with others is a matter of difference not so much in terms of the level of success we have reached as in terms of our personal happiness and relationships.
Ah, Pablo Picasso could not have said it better: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give [your gift] away.”
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