I once witnessed an exchange between a Tibetan lama and a questioner on this subject. "Rinpoche," inquired a pleasant middle-aged man in a checkered sport shirt, "I adore my son. He's a linebacker for his high-school football team. and I find myself rooting for him to just cream the opposing quarterback. Is there anything wrong with that?"

"Of course not," the lama replied. "You love your son, and you want his happiness, and he's happy when he beats the other team. This is only natural."

There was an audible sigh of relief in the room. The spiritual path may be challenging, but it's not unreasonable.

The man smiled, "Thank you, Rinpoche," he said, making a brisk little folding gesture with his hands.

The lama laughed sharply, "I was only joking! Actually, this is not at all the right attitude. In fact," he said, glancing at the man mischievously, "a good practice for you would be to root for the other team. See them winning, see them happy, see their parents over-joyed. That is more the bodhisattva way." The man thanked him again, this time with an ironic groan at the homework assignment that stretched past football season. . .

Try it for yourself. Root for the other team. Visualize someone who makes you envious — someone who squats smug as a toad in what is surely is your rightful place in the world. Think of them in all their irritating splendor, enjoying the perks and accolades you no doubt deserve. Then . . . wish sincerely that they get even more goodies.

Marc Ian Barasch in The Compassionate Life