“With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures and some books, I live without envy.”- Lope de Vega
Well, maybe Lope has completely kicked envy. It still raises its green head and roars at me a bit, but I am proud to say that as I have gotten older, I have given up that clawing toward the top or wherever it is that people claw to reach. I probably have less worldly goods than almost any other time in my life, but somehow, it hardly bothers me at all.
Envy is probably one of the most self-destructive forces to mankind. I often write about narcissism, and I believe that envy is at the root of narcissism. People want what someone else has, and they begin to sell their souls to get it. Over-achieving and over-working follow, and often the overworking itself blinds the person as to his own behavior.
“Each person’s drive to overwork is unique, and doing too much numbs every workaholic’s emotions differently. Sometimes overwork numbs depression, sometimes anger, sometimes envy, sometimes sexuality. Or the overworker runs herself ragged in a race for attention.” – Arlie Russell Hochschild
Don’t get me wrong, I still have plenty of vices, but one day I simply woke up and realized that envy was a totally wasted effort. The fact that I envied something didn’t deliver it to me, and even when I did get what I envied, I discovered that what I was envying wasn’t really all that great. It didn’t make me happy. What I envied wasn’t even making the other people happy.
“Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy.” – Heraclitus
It sounds completely simplistic and too naïve, but I believe that the magic occurred when I realized that not very much at all was required to make me happy and that the things that make me happiest of all are almost free–like flowers and beautiful spring days and showers of rainbow-colored leaves flitting through the autumn wind.
“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” – Harold Coffin
As long as we look outward, we’ll always see that someone has something that we don’t have. One day, my youngest son was upset that he didn’t win this or that or have this or that or perhaps he was upset about something about himself that he thought inferior, and I told him, “Everyone wishes that they were better.”
At that time, Tom Cruise was the top-of-the-charts-actor and Brad Pitt was somewhere behind. Since that time, Tom Cruise has become like Icarus. He flew too close to the sun and his wings melted, but at that time, he was the king. I told my son, “Look at Brad Pitt. I bet he’d like to be Tom Cruise, and I am quite sure that Tom Cruise won’t settle for being less than God.”
A degree of envy is simply part of our make-up. We all have a bit of it, but it does not have to be our driving forces. We need to see it for what it is and understand: Envy simply does not work, and it brings no joy.
“Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all.” – Joseph Epstein
If you feel the need to have a juicy vice, pick something other than envy. It is no fun at all. It hurts. Until we look in the mirror, gluttony would be fun.
“Envy’s a coal comes hissing hot from Hell.” – Phillip James Bailey
©Jacki Kellum March 16, 2016