In a book review in the "New Statesman" this week there was some interesting quotes. The review was of a book called "Happiness: lessons from a new science" by Richard Layard. Apparently a major source of discontent is the habit of comparing ourselves with others. Layard urges us to give it up by telling the following joke,

A Russian peasant has no cow but his neighbour does. "How can I help?" asks God, and the peasant replies: "Kill the cow."

Gore Vidal expresses the idea more succinctly,

Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.

Sounds pretty pessimistic of human nature to me, but there is some truth in it.

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