If I compare myself to a life in which I would have everything I have now, my friends and education, plus Paris Hilton's dog and Bill Gates' stock portfolio, the emotional outcome is assured --Personally, I despise Paris Hilton's dog, but the line about being cursed with Paris Hilton's education and Bill Gates' wardrobe made me laugh out loud.
I will feel miserable, and deprived.
If I think about the actualities and imponderables from which I have been spared -- Paris Hilton's education and Bill Gates' wardrobe -- life looks quite rich.
Let our accountings be approximate, and realistic. Surprisingly, reality-orientation produces less red ink and many more optimistic & grateful footnotes of anticipated future profit.
Elsewhere, Dilys links to a nicely pointed article at TCS entitle The Night I Became An American -- at least in the eyes of European cultural prejudices...