From Max Ehermann’s Desiderata, which sets on my desk:

“If you compare yourself with others, you will become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

The subtlety I had not previously noted in this is the juxtaposition of “vain and bitter.”  It would seem that in comparing myself to others I should become vain OR bitter.  I am either the lead dog in the pack, or not.  If I compare, I (as the lead dog) am at risk for becoming vain, if I am not the lead dog, I am at risk for becoming bitter.  But it occurs to me that Ehrmann has it correct.  In life, the lead changes often, and ultimately, even the lead dog realizes that there is another pack in front of his/hers.

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