UgBlogWeek Day 4 – Envy

By on October 22, 2015

It is very likely that every human being feels a hint of envy whenever they see someone else more successful or happier than they are. Quite naturally, most people are more envious of those closer to them than of those further away. When two brothers are growing up, there are instances where hints of jealousy and covetousness start to take root.

When the parents buy them presents, each one is anxious to see what the other got not because they are genuinely happy for them but because they want to claim the title of ‘brother with the best present’. This little and innocent envy can often graduate in a deeper and more profound envy that has hints of jealousy and near hatred for anyone who has attributes or properties that one may not have.

Envy generally occurs when one individual lacks the achievement or properties of another person and hopes or wishes that the other person did not have that much.

People like Bertrand Russell have mentioned that unhappiness is not necessarily caused by lacking something but knowing that someone else has that thing you lack. It therefore follows that while someone might feel like they too want something that someone else has, they are also looking to create some kind of misfortune on the other person. That is the nature of envy.

Envy is mostly seen as a negative emotion and it is advisable that people try to hold down their envy as much as they possibly can. Failure to hold down one’s envy can lead to Schadenfreude – pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.

There are instances where hints of envy are known to motivate people to work hard and attain certain levels of success not only because they bring happiness but because they disprove others. Therefore if channeled well, envy can actually be the instigator for healthy competition and thus achievement.

Envy” and “jealousy” are commonly used interchangeably, but the two words are actually represent different emotions. Similar, yes – but different.

Jealousy is an emotion that appears because of the apparent fear of losing someone or something that one may hold dear to them to someone else. Envy on the other hand is an emotion of resentment that is brought about by another person having something that one does not exactly have, but would like to have for oneself.

In the bible, envy is mentioned as the reason behind Cain murdering his brother, Abel. The fact that Cain envied Abel owing to God’s acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s was explanation for why Cain decided to kill his brother.

In Hinduism, Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 12, Verse 15 states that “One who does not envy but is a compassionate friend to all … such a devotee is very dear to Me.” Envy is looked at as a very dangerous emotion that needs to be dealt with early on in life. Any emotion that creates some kind of imbalance in the mind and is one that ought to be done away with at whatever cost.

Amongst the Buddhists, the word ‘irshya’ is often translated as either envy or jealousy. Irshya is defined in Buddhism as a state of mind in which one is very highly agitated and in constant desire to obtain wealth and honor for oneself, but they are unable to bear the excellence of others. Now that right there is a lesson every human being needs to master.

In English-speaking historical cultures, envy is usually linked to the colour green and thus the phrase “green with envy“. However, the phrase “green-eyed monster” is used more to refer to a person whose motives and actions are backed by jealousy and not necessarily envy. It is no wonder in many of his works Shakespeare referred to “green eyed jealousy” for instance in The Merchant of Venice when Portia states: “How all the other passions fleet to air, as doubtful thoughts and rash embraced despair and shuddering fear and green-eyed jealousy!”

We should be able to watch those around us succeed without bearing any ill feeling towards them. That way, you we can be sure that we shall live happy lives unbothered by other people’s progress but rather happy to offer ladders for them to step onto as they progress in life.

“When you have wit of your own, it’s a pleasure to credit other people for theirs.” ― Criss Jami, Killosophy

a.k.a Beewol
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  1. Pingback: #UgBlogWeek: Day 4 Stories Curated | Patricia Kahill

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