There's a theory that if you're feeling jealous of someone, you should ask yourself if you'd trade lives with that person. (For example here's Carolyn Hax recommending this thought experiment.) The idea is that when you think about whether you'd trade whole lives with them, your answer will be "Of course not!", and then your envy will be cured.
However, apart from the fact that there are cases where the answer is going to be "Hell yeah! Of course I'd love to trade whole lives
with them! I didn't know that was an option!", this approach simply
isn't logical. Not every aspect of the person's life has a causal
relationship with the aspect you're jealous of, and suggesting that they
do undermines the credibility of the whole approach.
example, suppose you're jealous of my long gorgeous hair. So, in an
attempt to assuage that jealousy, you tell yourself "Yeah, but her rent
is atrocious." That's absolutely true. And absolutely unrelated to my
hair. My hair would be just as long and gorgeous if I lived somewhere
cheaper - maybe even more so, because I could afford to spend more money
It is true that there are negative
characteristics of my life that have direct causal relationships with my
long gorgeous hair. I do spend more than I care to admit on it, and
the same genes that produce my hair also caused me to start going grey
at 19 and start getting acne at 9 (and the acne will persist for the
rest of my life.) Someone who wanted to make themselves less jealous of
my hair might be able to do so by thinking about these aspects.
the fact that my rent is atrocious, or the fact that I'm not married,
or the fact that my feet are larger than standard women's shoe sizes are
all completely unrelated to my hair. I could still achieve the same
hair if these aspects of my life were different.
What interesting is sometimes you see this in political
discussions. Someone points out a positive aspect of a different
jurisdiction or political system, and someone else says "Yeah, but they
have [negative aspect] too!" even though the negative aspect is
For example, one person says "Quebec has $7 a
day daycare! We should do that here!" And another person replies
"Yeah, but they get weirded out when people play soccer wearing a
hijab. Do you want that?" But the two aren't related! You can totally implement a daycare policy without touching soccer uniform codes.
How do they land on the idea that you must necessarily appropriate every aspect rather than picking and choosing what works best?