In a sense, we all experience envy; if we didn’t marketing campaigns couldn’t work. We see the people we desire to be like and we decide that we desire the things that they have and we purchase them when we can and are envious when we can’t. So how can we combat envy?
It is more important than ever for our wellbeing that we are aware of the feelings of discontent and lack that come up for us when we view the lives of others. Whether we desire somebody else’s lifestyle, luck, love life or possessions, the idea that someone else is in some way living a life that leaves us feeling resentful needs to be addressed.
We and only we are in charge of our thoughts and feelings. This is not to say that every thought flying through our minds is created by us, rather that we choose the thoughts we follow and the feelings we encourage.
If we were not able to feel envy, social media would not exist on the scale it does, advertising companies would not exist in droves and we would live with far less than we do now. It is counter intuitive to punish ourselves or reflect negatively on envy, rather notice when the feeling comes up and the thoughts that lead to it.
A culture that focuses on what we lack rather than the gifts we were born with is a culture that fosters envy. If we all truly felt that we have everything we need and desire within, it would not matter who has what body, what car, what brand sponsoring them. This doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy and flourish in the material world but that we would not feel dependent on it for happiness and satisfaction.
Envy is born of a sense of lack. We may acquire all that we are envious of and still not feel fulfilled. Because a sense of lack is a feeling born of a belief that we need x, y and z to feel well rather than the knowledge that within we already are.
Next time we feel the surge of enviousness when looking at what someone else has, let’s not just fall back into the habit of engaging with it but consider it and ask ourselves:
- Why do we want the thing we are coveting?
- Do we believe it will make us feel a certain way?
- Are we looking to feel completed by it?
- Do we think the sense of lack will disappear for good once we have it?
Trying to deny or avoid feelings doesn’t work but once we are curious enough to investigate them, we break the habit of falling into them. Getting interested in envy, how it manifests in our lives and the actions we take that encourage it are ways of combatting a feeling that although we act on, is not something any of us wants to admit to or perpetuate. Envy does not feel good. What does is the peace and wellbeing that reside within and are experienced when our minds are not clouded by resentment and thoughts of lack but are guided by the wisdom that helps us flourish in both our spiritual and physical lives.