I recently read a great book called “HAPPINESS” by Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist Monk actively involved with research on the effects of meditation on the brain.
The premise of this book is that striving to be happy should gain as much of your attention as any other healthy practice in your life such as fitness, nutrition, meditation etc. And I couldn’t agree more.
It seems that everyone out there in the big world is stressed, angry, competing for something, always reaching for that next material fix or fast food fix that just leaves them empty and more stressed and angry in the end. It is a vicious cycle that just keeps repeating itself over and over and over.
I have written past posts on happiness and other topics related to seeking peace of mind. An emotion I’ve not touched on yet is “ENVY”…. that green monster of jealousy that makes people detest others for their successes rather than be happy for them.
Matthieu Ricard opens his chapter on Envy with this quote from Montesquieu, “What cowardice it is to be dismayed by the happiness of others and devastated by their good fortune”. That hits the nail on the head when describing ENVY.
Let’s face it. We have all experienced ENVY at some point in our lives. Whether it was in school when someone got a better grade than us, a co-worker got that promotion you were hoping for at work, a sibling ended up with a better lifestyle, a friend has a bigger house than we do and on and on it goes.
Envy and jealousy derive from the fundamental inability to rejoice in someone else’s happiness or success.
By being envious in life, the only person you are inflicting pain on is yourself. You are not going to put a stop to the successes of those you are jealous of. It is all EGO driven, this emotion of ENVY.
Bertrand Russell, a philosopher, logician, social critic and political activist, believed that envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness. I can understand that. I know people who live their lives in a state of envy and they are really unhappy people. These envious people wish to inflict misfortune on others.
Psychologists recently suggested that there are two kinds of envy; malicious and benign…benign being a positive motivational type of envy.
As written in Wikipedia, envy is even in fairy tales such as “Snow White” in which the Queen is envious of Snow White’s beauty and seeks to eliminate the younger woman in order to be the “fairest of them all”.
In Buddhism envy (irshya) is a state of mind in which one is highly agitated to obtain wealth for oneself but unable to cope with the excellence of others.
In the Bible envy is one of the seven deadly sins.
In Hinduism envy is considered a disastrous emotion.
Narcissists are often envious of others or think others are envious of them.
Envy is a very difficult negative emotion to overcome. But one you must learn to eliminate. Some people have to seek professional treatment such as anger management to get over their ENVY.
Be happy for other people’s successes and you will reap benefits. Appreciating what you have and not comparing your life to others is liberating. Remember this…there will always be someone ahead of you or living a better life than you. That is just the way it is. Be happy where you are. Happiness is bliss.