Take a look at this picture. What do you see (besides some fabulous jewelry)? My guess is you see a happy couple, probably passionately in love, planning a long future together. Yeah, that's what I see, too.
I'm thinking about my Work-in-Progress. One of my characters, miserable in her own marriage, sees a happy-looking couple on the street and fills with envy. As I think about her, I'm reminded of an incident in my own life. Six or seven years ago, I was divorced and partnerless. I was in church one day when I saw an acquaintance several rows in front of me. She was sitting with a man I'd never seen before. I realized that this acquaintance, a lovely woman for whom I had much affection, was finally dating after many years of a dry spell. I watched as she and the very handsome man tipped their heads together, whispering and laughing and looking very much in love. I felt joy for her, marred only by the green-eyed monster, envy. I wanted some of what she clearly had.
Later that week, I shared my feelings with a girlfriend, who told me "that's your insides looking at their outsides." Wow. She nailed it. We know our insides so well--all those insecurities and uncertainties and, sometimes, emotional pain. But all we know of someone else's relationship is what we see on the outside--that superficial laughter and whispering and sparkly-eyed joy. We have no idea what's going on inside those two people. Whenever I find myself envying someone else's life in some way, I think about my friend's wise statement. I think this is a lesson I want my character to learn, as well.
Sure enough, my acquaintance and her new man split up shortly after I witnessed that scene in church. I was genuinely sad for her and I hope by now she's found the special someone she deserves. I know I have.