A person can potentially use comparisons to mess up his life. For example, a person can go to the most elegant restaurant which employs the greatest chef. He can order the most expensive food. Then for the rest of his life he can say about any other meal, "This isn't as good as the meal I once had in that five-star restaurant."
I recently related this example to a group of tourists. They laughed. And then one spoke up and said, "I just realized that I do this all the time. Just last night at the fancy hotel we were staying at, my first comment after the meal was, 'This wasn't as good as the food I ate at another restaurant five years ago.' I didn't realize how foolish this response is."
Our patterns of comparisons will either be a way we prevent ourselves from enjoying what we have, or a way by which we gain a greater sense of appreciation. A sage once said, "In spiritual matters look up and raise your sights. But when it comes to material and physical matters look down." That is, in spiritual matters keep looking for role models to motivate yourself to reach higher and higher levels. But when it comes to appreciating your possessions and your financial situation, look at those who have less than you and gain a greater sense of appreciation for what you have.
Love Yehuda Lave
I like Beatles' music. It is original, fresh, and quirkily meaningful. But on 25th June 1967 John Lennon got it decidedly wrong. Not the music – just the title. Nothing wrong with the love part, but expressing love as a need has got it all wrong. You don't 'need' love – you love. Love is many splendored thing and gives you that lovin' feeling'. But love is also inner-work of taming the ego.
Democracy is a great political system but doesn't always translate to other life areas e.g. love. And yet many people view love as a sacred democratic institution. Emotion-democrats claim it's all about fairness, equality, reciprocity, a two-way street. It's not. Love is a one-way street. Think about it. Love is about giving. Love is what you draw from yourself to confer on another - a block of your busy time, a wad of hard earned-money, a flow of feelings at the tired end of the day. It's always a gratuitous expression of sensitive caring.
So why can't it be a two way street? Wouldn't that make it doubly good? Not at all. You can't make someone love you. Love cannot be coercive and coerced. To get someone to love you back is to demand fulfilment of a need – your need – the need to be loved. But that is the ego talking. I need to be loved. And you, dear lady or gentleman, better love me, right now, on cue, at my bidding, otherwise 'it's not love'. Does that sound at all like love to you? Yet it does sound 'needy'.
To be loved evokes a warm fuzzy feeling, a 'feel-good' feeling. Nothing unnatural or improper about feeling good when being loved. But that is the expression of love of the other for you. It is their verb, their choice, their givingness – not yours. Love is not an equation. Love is an one-sided initiative.
The Kabbala explains love-dynamics in this way. The spiritual source of love is the Sefira of Hessed. The nature of Hessed is to flow outwards from the mind, body, and soul. And it doesn't flow inwards at the same time, so love is not what you receive, only what you give.
When the troubled lover says to his doubting partner: I will love you if you will love me, he is transacting business and specifying the conditional nature of the contract - the big 'if'. It might be a plaintive call for fairness but it's the ego talking, saying 'I want', 'I must have', 'I need that emotional fix'. True love means to love, not to be a recipient of love. If you love truly it is highly likely that you will awaken a true love in the other and you will, in passing, also be on the receiving end of their love with all of its attendant good feelings. But you don't love to get it back. That's emotional bribery. When you get it back it's called a bonus!
Love is not a need because a need is what is seeking fulfilment of what is missing in you. Love is what you give the other to fill up their emotional black hole, not yours.
Clearly love is a tricky matter. Introspection, honesty and clear-headedness are required to assess emotional integrity. The important thing is not to engage in a 'user-friendly' relationship – very friendly but using the other for your own needs.
John, wherever you are, I am hereby retitling your song All You Give Is Love. Hope you don't mind. It's a better life recipe for joy and happiness.