Learning from envy
Like many four letter words, envy can be quite useful
Of all of the capital sins, envy is the one I fall into more often.
I'm not too proud of it, but hey, we probably all have a mistake we make the most often. Envy is mine.
I honestly recommend you reflect on what is your own most frequent sin: thinking about envy and how it grips me sometimes has been very illuminating.
To be envious is to be resentful of what others have or have done. It makes you look outward, beyond yourself. Like a little asterisk that points everywhere, envy nudges you towards everything else, except yourself. It chews on your confidence also
An old problem, modernized
Perhaps in the past, being envious could be more of a focused thing: you spent much of your life with the same group of people, exposed to a limited number of things to covet. But alas, the internet has changed that. Envy is now a mass industry.
Envy exists in the space of “information problems”, it requires the awareness of something that you are not, have not, could not. If you don't know about it, you cannot feel resentful about not having a thing, a skill, an achievement. More information has to influence this. Social media being the usual suspect, of course.
Personally, envy manifests in a few (now familiar) ways:
I see a skilled craftsman and I want to learn their abilities. I want to code, and work with wood (such a cliché) and draw and persuade and write like the best.
I see a nice thing and I want to have it. Not because I need it, but because it is cool. I might not even know what I'd realistically do with it, but I want it. This usually means stuff like 3d printers, or nice furniture, architecture-magazine-grade homes, etc.
I look at a CV (this is a big one for me, I'm afraid) and I wish it was mine. It isn't so much that my CV hasn't served me well. But more that I wish to have done more impressive projects, worked with sexier companies, won some awards maybe?
The funny, sometimes maddening thing about me and my envy is that I'm not in a bad place: many of the things I want of others, I recognize I have in and for myself, even if on a smaller scale.
The problem is that envy makes no sense.
It doesn't care about the reality of what you are and have and can. I cares only about what others became, attained and achieved. Envy looks outward.
The solution to envy is probably around contentment. Counting your blessings. Wanting what you already have, instead of the other way around.
Looking inward and finding reasons to like what you see, is the obvious cure.
But for some reason, not a switch I can turn on. It is an habit.
A kinder type of self-reflection is something you need remember to do, until it becomes natural. I am better at toning envy down, but I don't think I will ever dispel it.
Speaking of habits, you might enjoy the gratitude jar app I've made
Ultimately, the most annoying thing about envy is that it robs you of your focus. Keeping you craning your neck, looking further, without letting you discover yourself.
It can be a vicious cycle:
feel unsure about yourself,
look outside for reference points,
desire what is not yours
feel unsure about yourself
I'm not sure about the other capital sins, but when it come to my own, I can say it is massive waste of time. Envy smothers curiosity, replacing it with borrowed goals.
Envy is a signal. It tells you something about yourself and what you want.
It isn't perfect (it can still make you think you want things that make no sense given your personality), but it can be useful.
In my case, envy of others tends to revolve either around status or creative authenticity. Status is pretty much fake: a mimetic trap that could or could not be meaningful for you. Also, often a anti-nutrient for a soul that is facing fear (that's a whole other thing, for another post)
But creative authenticity? That's very real to me.
When I see that I envy people whose lives appear to be extremely aligned with their curiosity, I can see what I'm missing. It becomes a whisper of what I should seek.
But this is me. Perhaps you long for different things.
My suggestion is that you listen to your envy (if you have it). You might stumble upon something new about yourself.
Thank you for reading this far. I write whenever I have something to say. Subscribe for more "deep from the heart” stuff. And sometimes jokes