It is human nature to presume that the grass is always greener on the other side. And comparison and competition are inherent in human norms that burrow through the psyche and gnaw on the mental health of the vulnerable.

It is said that all that glitters isn't gold. Lives of the wealthy and the affluent are often envied by the economically disadvantaged.

However, even the rich and wealthy aren't free of troubles. They might not have similar problems as the underprivileged, but they have their own woes and plights.

Take, for example, the developed nations that have their share of problems from opioid epidemics to increasing mental health problems and even destitution in the poorer sectors.

It is said that money can't buy happiness, but it can be a poor substitute for genuine happiness.

And today the world is obsessed with consumerism. Sellers convince the buyers happiness and satisfaction from their products.

Companies guarantee a better and secure future from their services. It seems the current zeitgeist is to consume products, services and luxuries.

However, can they bring genuine happiness and joy? Public figures are envied for their talents, achievements, appearances and affluence. Yet, they too cannot escape the labyrinth of woes that life presents in each step. Life is too valuable to be constantly preoccupied with the pursuit of wealth, position and influence.

In doing so, we mostly compete with one another for the next raise and the next advancement.

While it is true that one must strive for success and prosperity, it is also true that life is much more than numbers on the bank balance.

Equilibrium is essential wherein we must strive for mental, physical and spiritual health. A calm and peaceful mind is a haven for genuine happiness. And yet we cannot escape the bills that have to be paid and the ambition that has to be manifested through the corporate ladder. What would be the answer then? Perhaps we need to reassess our goals and aspirations. A space has to be carved out, one where we value ethics, morals and humane principles. Instead of resenting our lack, we could be grateful for what we have at the moment. By letting go of the past and the worries of the future, we can focus on the present.

Sadly, we prioritise the wrong things in life, and in doing so we become oblivious to those that really matter. Fame, wealth and power are all fickle, capable of luring the best of us and turning against our better interests.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 26, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.