a note en envy
i read an article recently where the author posed the argument,
“is envy good for you?”
reframing this concept, one as old as (human) time, seems both timely and pointless. timely in that now we see other people’s lives so readily. we have avenues which make it seem (falsely) ok to flaunt one’s good fortune - and, conversely, too easy for others be resentful of it. social media can encourage envy as a daily habit. so much so that i feel it has taken up a greater percentage than should be allowed in our makeup - much more than its allotted 14% of the ‘7 deadly sins’.
so back to this article. the thesis is that your envy of others will help to pinpoint what you truly want out of your life. it was the most (deceivingly) productive recasting of a most useless emotion i’ve ever read.
but that’s not the point. it’s a bit like that oft reblogged quote,
“the grass is greener where you water it.”
a supposedly inspiring quote drenched in an competitive tone suggesting an active effort to play catch up. to aim for the superlative ‘greener’ might damper envy, but it will not extinguish it.
the other side of the same coin is schadenfreude. aside from having a fun-to-say buzzword to describe such an ordinary sociological phenomenon, there is no purpose in taking pleasure in someone else’s pain or misfortune. someone else slipping does not propel you forward.
as we grow older, the stakes are higher. the trajectory of failure at this point is a longer path down and, therefore, more painful to witness. when someone says, ‘i wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” it’s not necessarily because she discovered some new found love of and compassion for her enemy. it’s because she experienced a great pain or profound sadness, one so heavy she couldn’t bear to imagine it placed on another.
this is my long-winded way of explaining a slow growing realization i’ve come to grasp over the past few years. naturally, it’s an already existing, long established tenant threaded throughout most religions. in buddhism, it’s called ‘mudita’ - the joy that comes in delighting in someone else’s well-being and success.
that’s my cure for envy.
be happy for others in their successes.
because with all of the peaks, valleys, and plateaus which dot life’s geography, you’ll have your day, too. eventually. inevitably.
and all you can hope is that people will be as happy for you then as you are for them now.