By Kristine Jacobson

Our 9-year-old daughter was thrilled to receive her much-wanted zebra-print bean bag from Santa for Christmas. That was until she learned that her cousins received an Ipod Touch.

Although she didn’t ask for an Ipod Touch, suddenly she was sad she didn’t receive one.

Then, tears started streaming down her eyes when she received Barbie clothes for the grab-bag gift. She doesn’t play with Barbies any more.

My husband and I didn’t give her much sympathy knowing how spoiled she was for Christmas. But we did use it as an opportunity for a lesson on the 10th Commandment, a lesson that I need to be reminded about, too.

God gave us the 10 Commandments as a key to happiness, we told our daughter. You cannot be happy if you are constantly breaking any commandment, but especially the 10th Commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”

How many times am I perfectly content and then I see somebody having a party without me or enjoying a vacation on Facebook, and then I’m jealous. I like my Ford Expedition and plan on keeping it for many more years until I see the neighbor down the street with a new vehicle.

In the same way, my daughter was so happy with her zebra bean bag that she had wanted for more than a year – until she saw that her cousins received Ipods. Then, she wanted what they had.

It’s a hard lesson to learn, and one that takes lots of prayer and practice to overcome.

The one thing that seems to fight off jealousy is gratefulness. Make a list of everything you are grateful for in your own life and that wards off jealousy of others.

When someone receives something or accomplishes something grand, be happy for that person and joy will fill your heart, we told her.

I’m no expert on overcoming jealousy, so I leave you with words of wisdom from other sources about finding happiness for others …

“One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of like comes from being happy over the good fortune of others.” – Robert A. Heinlein, American Science Fiction Writer

“The talent for being happy is appreciating and liking what you have, instead of what you don’t have.” – Woody Allen, American screenwriter

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philipians 2:3.

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Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson is a writer, a mother of three children and farm wife living in South-Central Nebraska. She puts her creative skills to use as editor of Nebraska Family Magazine at and helps non-profits and small businesses share their stories in her public relations business, KRJPR.