Dennis Prager is a wise Jew dude.
This is a fantastic exploration of what "happy" is. It's a sensible list of things that he has observed over the past twenty or so odd years.
It is so true that you never really know what other people are going through until you actually ask-or they tell you. Things often look rosy on the outside, and then in one conversation, you find out about illness, family problems, economic stress, career issues. Everyone (correctly) has to put on their happy face when they walk through the office door, and for their children.
I recently read somewhere that envy is wanting to live someone else's life. I think that's a good definition, and it certainly confirms the futility of envy. We can't be anyone but ourselves. We can't escape our own strengths, foibles, egos, weaknesses, libidos, etc..We can try to make small behavioural modifications, and ask the same of our loved ones but one's basic character remains a life long blessing and burden together.
Do read the whole thing. I found myself nodding my head at many of the ideas that are so aptly summarized here. The observation about self-esteem versus self-respect is excellent, as is the advice about not being a complaining whiner. Lots of good nuggets in this column!