Fast forward a few days from now, Christmas Day, as little Andrew unwraps Optimus Prime on Christmas morning and a smile breaks across his features when the large toy lights up and nearly comes to life, flashing and beeping and driving Andy’s parents crazy.
But in a few moments, Andy discards the toy and begins unwrapping the rest of his presents, extracting each box from under the tree, one by one—some long, some tall, some heavy, some light. Each box reveals a new toy. Each shred of green-and-red wrapping paper, a flash of happiness.
An hour later, however, little Andy is crying hysterically. Based on his fits, this has undoubtedly been the worst Christmas ever. Sure, Andrew received many of the things on his list, but he’s far more concerned with what he didn’t receive. The toys in front of him simply remind him of what he doesn’t have.
This sounds childish, but don’t we do the same thing? Don’t we often look at the things around us and wish we had more? Don’t we covet that new car, those new clothes, that new iPhone?
What if Andy was happy with the toys in front of him? What if we were, too?
This essay was originally published in our book Essential.