“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Prov 14:30/NIV. Being envious of another person, another’s property, another’s social standing – what have you; is a path that should not be taken. However, many of us travel down that path – only to find disillusionment, pain and disappointment. But seeing someone and their success – it is hard to not want what they have. How do we deal with such feelings?
My son and I were talking the other day, and we got onto the subject of how rich actors were. He found the top twenty richest actors, and started reading down the list. We were surprised by who was on the list, and how much each of them made.
This got me thinking – first why do people make those lists and second how do those people even get onto those lists. Taking a look on the internet, there are lists for richest youtubers, richest rappers, richest people and the list goes on.
People are curious, curiosity is good – However, sometimes that curiosity gets the best of us and we start down a road that is best left untraveled. We start looking at what people have and that accentuates what we don’t have. That is where envy starts to creep in.
There is a reason that envy has made the list of seven deadly sins. Envy produces feelings in yourself that are damaging. You feel like you are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, or not lucky enough. So we strive harder and work harder than we did before, so that we can achieve what the other person has.
This constant measuring of ourselves to another person will not bring satisfaction, because there will always be someone else that is better or has more; which intensifies your own lack of self confidence.
I am not saying that hard work is bad, in fact hard work is admirable – what I am saying is hard work for the wrong reason is bad: Because, you will never be satisfied.
I remember when I was still in college, I was approached by a nice dressed man and his female companion. They looked fancy, they wore nice clothes and drove a nice car. They told me that they could introduce me to a guy that helped them get rich and enjoy life to the fullest. I went to the “business meeting” and I was a little disappointed: It was an AmWay presentation. However, they got me there because I was envious of that couple’s “success.”
But envy doesn’t stop there. Envy causes, “I deserve that.” type of thinking, which can lead to antisocial behaviour, theft and even murder.
So thinking about our conversation a few days later, I started thinking about the people on those lists. I have realized – and honestly it was not that big of a revelation – people get on those types of lists, because they worked hard for it.
Actors – actors don’t usually work “normal” hours. They work late into the night, they work early in the morning, they have to work in all sorts of weather conditions and in uncomfortable situations. Then the job is over. Now if you are not an “A” list actor, you will have to audition for your next role. The film or TV show that you worked so hard on – might not even see the light of day.
Musicians – when I was younger, I wanted to be a professional musician. But being a professional musician is difficult as well. You have to work hard playing in venues that don’t pay a lot of money, then if you get discovered, you will have to get radio play so that you can sell records, or if you are lucky you can get a big name star to let you open for them. Then after you have performed and been rejected for years, you might actually land in a top spot.
I can go on with business people, sales professionals, artists, writers and the list goes on. The reason for their success and how they got on those lists – hard work. They practiced their craft day and night, they met with obstacles, they were ridiculed for their efforts and told many times that they were wasting their time – but they kept at it. It was not immediate, it was not easy, but through determination they achieved what they set their minds to do.
Change your thinking
Comparing yourself to another will only leave you feeling confused and disillusioned. Envy will never help you get satisfied. Look at yourself in a real perspective. If you have the desire to be great, don’t compare yourself to anyone. Look for a mentor that can show you the ropes, but not someone you will idolize, because once again that will lead you to a feeling of inadequacy which will once again take you down the road to Envy.
Dealing with the feelings of envy can be hard, because you want what someone else has. But this constant comparing yourself to someone can be damaging. Dr. Robert L. Leahy Ph.D. suggested that we compare ourselves to ourselves. try to do better then we did the last time.
Identify your thoughts that lead to envy. These are severely negative and put you into a negative light. If someone is more successful than you, you don’t have to claim it is not fair. I hear all the time, “I wonder how they got there?” or “Knowing my luck…” or my favorite, “I don’t like him/her because…” All those are rooted in envy. We need to stop thinking about what is fair or not and start thinking about how you fit into society.
The point is, stop comparing yourself to others, stop judging other people because they match up with what ideals you want for yourself – Start changing your internal dialog to: “How can I achieve my goals?” “I don’t need luck.” and “They might be different than me, but they deserve what they have.” You need to be generous with your thoughts and with yourself. Envy won’t make you happy – be content and at peace with yourself and you find life.