Sunday Musing: The Problem with Envy

I have been absent from the blog for way too long now. That whole writing a blog post a day thing did not last very long! Regardless, I am trying to start this week on a good note by posting a Sunday Musing. I am currently pondering envy and why people are envious of others.

What do I know about envy? Well not much to be honest, but here are a few takes on envy I find valuable…

  • “Envy grows naturally in a relationship between equals.” – Aristotle
  • “Envy is the ulcer of the soul.” – Socrates
  • “Men’s hatreds generally spring from fear or envy.” – Machiavelli

Almost all humans, whether they like it or not, at one time or another, have experienced envy. Envious of their neighbor with the flashy sports car, envious of their colleague who continues to get promoted, envious of their teammate who is more skilled, etc.  In all of our envious feelings we seem to ignore what our envy is telling us. Our envy is highlighting our lack of attention to our own journey and our own path.

But why is it so hard to just focus on ourselves and our own path? I’d like to chalk this up to human nature, but I think that dismisses the fact that envy stems from an internal longing to focus inward. Comparing ourselves to others is a natural human tendency, but recognizing that everyone is on their own path and accepting that is incredibly difficult.

Envy is something I have always struggled with. I’m envious of my friends who ended up playing college soccer, I’m envious of people who went on to pursue PhDs or become lawyers, I’m envious of the people who purchased a house in 12 South five years ago when it was affordable, and the list goes on and on. And in all of this envious thinking, I somehow fail to focus on my path. Maybe that is why I have had such a hard time identifying what my path in life is or what direction my life is walking me. As I struggle to redefine myself and my dreams in this new City, I think it’s time I leave envy at the door and start worrying about myself.

I heard envy described today as a “destroyer of communities” and I couldn’t agree more. We should not feel more love towards a person we envy when they fail. Our love for other people should not be measured based on our own self-conscious feelings surrounding their achievements, but on our acceptance and happiness for them as they walk their own path. So as I continue my year of betterment, I am going to make an effort to stop focusing on the paths of my friends and family, and place more attention on identifying my own path, and taking the steps I need to continue in whatever direction that takes me.

This Sunday, I challenge myself to focus less on others, and more on walking my own path, whatever that may be.


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