After 45 years as a GP, Dr Robert Favaloro ponders on what it takes to build a wonderful life. How happiness can be grown and tended like a good crop. It's all about following The Rules of Life.
Rule of Life 6: 'Envy no-one'
A lady presented with her new baby for immunisation some years ago. She was dressed immaculately and the baby rode in a shiny pram. It was all perfect. The mother smiled as she sat for the consultation.
It was only after an initial chat that the tears started flowing. She admitted she was depressed and she felt little warmth for her child. She was guilt ridden because of this perceived failing as a mother. Support was initiated. Mum wiped the tears and she left my room with her well-practised smile.
The next patient, another mother with her child, also entered with a lovely smile. Again, tears flowed as the consultation progressed. She felt envious of the previous patient who 'so obviously' related beautifully with her baby. Why couldn't she do the same? Why did she find parenting so hard when others approached it with such ease?
Our perceptions can be far from the truth. The images people portray of themselves, in day-to-day life or online, can be rehearsed and false. Inevitably, the grass looks greener on the other side.
Our attitude, towards ourselves and others, has an incredible impact on our life.
We are programmed to like ourselves the way we are (see Rule of Life number two). When we envy, we lose sight of our own amazing assets and jeopardise our happiness.
I see us all as possessing equal assets, we just have to recognise them.
I remember talking with a missionary on his return from South America. He had ministered to people living there in shanties with dirt floors. He felt sorry for them because they lacked so many material possessions.
At Christmas, some of these people expressed great sorrow for him. They explained that his lack of his family around him at Christmas must be devastating. To them, family was their greatest gift. Their value system gave them a wonderful attitude to life.
Let us love friends, family and kindness as they are so much more valuable than money. They are the opposite of envy. They lead to happiness.
Rule number seven in two weeks.