I suppose it depends a lot on who your god is.
We might say we don’t have a god at all, but there will always be something or someone who is central in our lives. There's someone we trust to make us happy, or something that, when we get it, will finally give us access to “the good life”. There's a goal that provides our ultimate motivation, a person we're desperate to please and a thing we'd be lost without.
A lot of these ‘gods’ that we live for are incredibly demanding.
Wealth, for example, is a tyrant. It’s so easy to believe that more money will make us happy. But it doesn’t take long to discover that money is a ruthless god.
That might sound ridiculous: how could ‘wanting more money’, be demanding? Well, money makes promises. It promises more relaxing holidays, a more secure future, more power and influence and choice. Money promises the “good life”.
The problem is that you’re the one who has to do all the work to make it happen. Money doesn’t lift a finger to help, it makes the promise but then demands that you make it happen.
In fact, money drives you so mercilessly that even when you think you’ve made it, you never have quite enough. Living for wealth is exhausting.
When it comes to these gods, their promises only come true if you work hard enough.
When we ‘worship’ these demanding idols, it’s so easy for our pride to kick in, as we look to compare ourselves with others. We watch and wonder how well they meet the demands of their gods.
If they’re doing better than we are, we’re envious. If they’re less successful than us we become conceited. Either way other peoples' ‘success’ in life becomes the standard by which we measure our own.
How do we escape this cycle?