It seems like a universal human endeavor–to compare ourselves with others and either feel better or worse in the comparison. The problem with such activities, besides being a complete waste of time, is that comparisons are not valid.
Of course when we break down our lives into individual components it is obvious that all living beings share certain basic aspects of their lives–friends, family, financial status, occupation, health (physical and psychological). It is all too easy to compare our lives with others based on each individual category. Our job sucks while Bob is CEO of a large company and makes tons of money. Sam has a hot wife and mine is rather unattractive and let herself go. John's kids are super successful and mine are still struggling to find themselves. Anthony can run marathons and my arthritis is killing me. Etc. Etc. So it seems that such comparisons must be valid. It is the source of much of our suffering. It is envy personified. Likewise if we are fortunate enough to seem to have done "better" than others it is a karmic trap to be arrogant or to demean someone else. Our own fate is as uncertain as the person who seems down and out. We could be where they are in a heartbeat.
We want what seems to be "better" in someone else's life while forgetting various factors which might include hard work, making good decisions, just being fortunate. It is also crucial to understand that life is not a zero-sum game. In other words someone else's success does not affect our own. The universe expands to embrace happiness and achievement. Your success will not diminish my own.
We also fail to realize that life is not a Chinese menu. We cannot pick one aspect of someone's life, another part of another, a third from another. There are no composite lives. Someone may appear to have a better marriage than us but may suffer from anxiety and phobias. Someone may have wildly successful children but they are angry at their parents and dissociate themselves from the family entirely.
Our lives are complete packages with good and bad. They are unique in all the universe. In fact each life is so unique that comparisons with another are impossible. Any attempt to do so is foolish.
Comparison is also invalid because each life is a journey over time. Recall the Biblical phrase "this too shall pass". This applies to good as well as bad. Joy and sadness will find their place in every life over time. Envy picks a moment in time for comparison. None of us know how the next moment may change our lives forever–for good or bad.
We live many lifetimes. Our journey here is based on soul choices from the past and free will operating in this lifetime. We cannot possibly know what karmic lessons from past lives our souls have signed on to in this life.
How, then, could we possibly know what others have in store for themselves?
Comparing our lives with others makes as much sense as a pro baseball player comparing himself with a pro golfer. Each can have success or failure within the confines of their particular sport but it is foolish to compare the two athletes as individuals. Does that analogy resonate at all with how we view other people? I believe with some variation, it can. And in doing so dissuade us from the compare and despair trap.