Do you recall a time(s) when you felt envy or jealousy? Why?
Something we are not taught in school is how to handle emotions like envy and jealousy. One of the bits of wisdom that my father shared with me many years ago is… “Not everyone will be happy for you. Not everyone will be happy for your good fortune.” He spoke the truth.
Occasionally a friend has told me to my face when they felt jealous or envious towards me. And I’ve heard people actually admit they felt envy towards another because of the other person’s looks (beauty), their weight, or because they just bought a big house. An old supervisor of mine was divorced, owned her own home, owned two horses, owned a BMW and an SUV, was thin and well dressed, and traveled wherever she wanted, but I noticed that she just didn’t seem to be happy for anyone else. I could tell this by her snide remarks, or other little things she would do, or not do. I just couldn’t understand it. Why was someone else’s good fortune, relationship (spouse/significant other), Tivo/DVR, or vacation, a problem for her? Maybe she liked to feel that she was better off than others. It just goes to show you that you never know what someone’s self-talk is or what they are really thinking.
The words “jealous” and “envious” are often used interchangeably, but they mean different things.
Jealousy is the emotion when you fear something or someone might be taken away from you.
Envy is the emotion when one wants something that someone or something else has. For example: I’m envious of his car/her clothes.
Other definitions of Envy:
a. A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.
b. The object of such feeling: Their new pool made them the envy of their neighbors.—American Heritage dictionary
a. feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
b. an object of envious feeling: Her intelligence made her the envy of her classmates.
c. to regard with envy; be envious of: He envies her the position she has achieved in her profession. — dictionary.com
“Envy is pain at the good fortune of others.” (Aristotle, Rhetoric, Bk II, Chapter 10)
Envy is widely agreed to be a symptom or instance of the human tendency to evaluate one’s well-being comparatively, by assessing how well one is doing in comparison with others.
Envy is a propensity to view the well-being of others with distress, even though it does not detract from one’s own. [It is] a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed by another’s because the standard we use to see how well off we are is not the intrinsic worth of our own well-being but how it compares with that of others. [Envy] aims, at least in terms of one’s wishes, at destroying others’ good fortune. (Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals 6:459) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/envy/
Envy – You want what they have –Paths of Envy and Jealousy Map
The Rival Shopkeepers
Once upon a time there were two shopkeepers who were bitter rivals. Their stores were across the street from each other, and they would spend each day sitting in the doorway, keeping an eye on each other’s business. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at his rival.
One night, an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, “God has sent me to teach you a lesson. He will give you anything you ask for, but I want you to know that whatever you get, your competitor across the street will get twice as much.”
“Would you like to be wealthy?” said the angel. “You can be very wealthy, but he (your competitor) will be twice as rich. Do you want to lead a long and healthy life? You can, but his life will be longer and healthier. You can be famous, have children you will be proud of, whatever you desire. But whatever is granted to you, he will be granted twice as much.”
The man frowned, thought for a moment, and said, “All right, my request is this: Strike me blind in one eye.”
“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”
“Envy is an insult to oneself.” –Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Why do we Compare ourselves to others? Here’s one man’s perspective: