Envy and Gratitude
Numerous religions and spiritual philosophies in the east and west discuss the morality or ethics of envy. Envy is often associated with a lowly or undesirable human characteristic. Notoriously biblical, envy is named as one of the seven deadly sins. Shakespeare referred to envy as the “green-eyed monster”; most of us mortals just call envy jealousy or “jelly” for short. To this day, people are aware of envy and are cognizant of its insidious presence. As a cultural, spiritual, or customary practice, some of us may actively ward off envy; by carrying certain objects, or wearing or displaying a talisman to steer the negative impacts of envy away.
The Ancient Egyptians used a symbol known as the Eye of Horus. Ancient Greeks, Romans, Ottoman Turks, Jews, and many indigenous tribes and races throughout the civilisation of humanity have acknowledged the negative energy emanating from envy and affecting others. Envy has been traditionally expressed through the symbol of an eye, depicted in various forms of illustrations and artefacts. Envy has enjoyed such a long and fascinating history because it is a part of the human condition.
The Oxford Dictionary defines Envy as follows;
Envy: “A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.”
Being envious of other people, or being the subject of envy is oftentimes difficult to pinpoint or acknowledge. At times it feels completely shocking to come to a realisation that someone you know, or a stranger even, has been or is envious of you. It can feel unwarranted, preposterous, confusing, or unnerving, and yet none of these feelings can diminish the fact that envy exists. Feelings like envy or jealousy are not pleasant to have in our own self because being envious of another person indicates our own insecurity.
This is not an insoluble problem at all and can be overcome if we focus less on what we do not have, or what we had and lost, or what we missed out on, and just focussed on ourselves, and what we do have. This is also simply known as being grateful.
There is no reason for any of us to exhaust our energy by being angry, critical, or envious of anyone if we are grateful, and truly thankful for the things that we have in our own life. There is no value or benefit to derive from diminishing our own joy, or by hiding our own achievements, just to please insecure people. There is nothing immoral, no sin to be found, in celebrating good news, achievements or victories.
The good book, the Bible, encourages sharing good news and few would be foolish enough to argue with God or whatever entity, vibe, or science in the universe doesn’t offend our intelligence or belief system. Envy is not just a pity-party but it destroys our own competence and ability to nurture and strengthen relationships with other people. The remedy for envy is to be grateful and to practise gratitude.
Practising gratitude is an action second only to demonstrating kindness. Gratitude is something that doesn’t necessarily need to have an act of kindness to precede it. Being grateful for all the things that we currently have in our lives is an ideal way of being and living life.
If we genuinely struggle with being or feeling grateful, there is a good possibility we may also struggle with demonstrating kindness. Kindness is showing consideration, being supportive, or friendly towards others. Whenever people extend their kindness towards us or support us, it is because they are consciously deciding to access the highest parts of their humanity.
It would be wonderful if everyone chose to express the best parts of their humanity, but it is important to acknowledge that some people may feel they are not under any obligation to be kind or considerate; they are only obligated to be non-abusive, so anything more than that is people deciding to make the best choices – people who intentionally are choosing to bring out the best parts of their humanity. The best kinds of people.
It is logical, it makes sense therefore, to thank another person when they have done something for our benefit, happiness, or success. This is gratitude extended towards another human-being; we are thanking them for their kind gestures in words or deeds.
When we are grateful for all the things that we feel blessed to have in our own lives, independent to anyone else’s actions or words, then we have given ourselves a strategic tool we can then use to deal with our envy.