“Envy” is a Four-Letter Word

Where did the expression “green with envy” come from?

I have no idea, but it’s a good one. Envy has a way of coloring our whole outlook on life. Instead of seeing clearly what we have and trusting that we have enough in every moment, we become fixated on the idea that someone else has it better. Not only that, but this fixation, this envy, is the justification we use to act in ways that are harmful to that person to try and get some of what they have for ourselves, or, at least, make it so they don’t have quite so much.

If you want to see envy in action, just watch a “reality” program like “The Bachelor”. Since everyone knows there’s only going to be one winner, all the nastiness comes out. Lies are spread. Judgments are made. Names are called. Characters are questioned.

Envy is the feeling that the only way you will ever have enough is if you actively prevent someone else from getting or keeping what you want. It can come up in small, deceitful ways (letting your dog dig up the flowerbeds in your neighbor’s yard so your garden looks better). Or it can be a life-altering thing (having an affair with your brother’s wife).

Too often, people see what they want to see. They think that since it looks better on the outside from where they’re standing, it must be better. It must be better to have a job that pays $100,000 a year rather than yours that only pays $35,000. But what you don’t see underneath is that that $100,000 job means traveling four days a week, having to wear suits all the time, and always having to carry your cellphone so the clients can reach you “in case of emergency” (their interpretation, not yourse). Meanwhile, you make a lot less, but you’re home with your kids every night and can go to their swim meets or piano recitals. Even if the boss sends an “urgent” e-mail on Friday afternoon, once five o’clock comes, everyone is done until the next Monday morning.

No matter how unsettled you might feel, in every situation, you have everything you need to deal with that situation. Hindsight often says that you could have done it better or had more complete equipment. But if you use each situation as an opportunity for growth and learning, without regret, then envy becomes more difficult to accept in yourself and less likely as a response to the good fortune of others.

Explore posts in the same categories: psychology

2 Comments on ““Envy” is a Four-Letter Word”

  1. Ted Says:

    >“green with envy”
    Color green is often assosiated with Liver/Gall Bladder (Wood Element)in Oriental Medicine, and “envy” is, in a way, heavily associated with frustration toward self… Hence “green with envy”.

    Some People’s facial color _does_ change in those circumstances. It’s really fun to watch. :)

    “ENVY”=”Envy is Negated Visceral Yearning”

  2. halfnotes Says:

    Didn’t think of those things, probably just because I’m coming from a different angle. Great to have the added insights, though. Thanks.

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