How Envy Can Destroy the Heart

Mar 30, 2019

At some point in our lives, we feel envy. It’s part of the human condition, some more than others. Generally, the more we fill our lives and hearts with good things that are meaningful and are humble about how fortunate we are to have them, the more gratitude we feel and the less envy we experience. Nevertheless, all of us would do well to be aware of it when it creeps up in our hearts, minds, and souls.

Envy works this way. It defines what is good as what we do not have. In other words, if I do not possess something, it takes on a higher value than if I do. Likewise, once I attain it, it is no longer valuable to me, because I have it. It makes keeping up with the Joneses a full-time job.

When envy dominates a person, he or she is looking over the fence at the yards of others. They think that another person’s position or some other relationship or status or possession would make them happy. They think that the real things of value are the things that others have, not themselves. So, they never feel grateful or content. There is always a next thing that will make them happy, until they get it. But once they have the possession, the position, or the person, that used to be the object of their envy, they still aren’t satisfied.

The law on envy says that instead of looking over the fence to find out what you want or what would make you happy, take ownership of your own yard and your real desires. There is nothing wrong with wanting things that you do not possess. That is desire. It is good. It drives you to achievement. You want a new house, so you figure out a way to make the money you would need to get it. It’s a great motivation, if the house is truly coming from your heart’s desire.

The person who takes a look at their own life, takes a real assessment, and says, “I would like _____,” whatever that is, and it truly fits who they are as a person, and is a good thing for them, is poised for the next step: to take responsibility for going and getting it. Desire means ownership and responsibility. Otherwise, it is just envy, wanting what you do not have and always not having enough. But true desire means you will do what it takes to get it — and love it once you do. It is the responsible stance in life.

So, instead of trying to find out what you desire in life by looking at what others have and thinking, “If only I were them,” or “If I had what they have,” look at your own heart and see what it is that you truly desire. What fits you? What will really make you happy that has nothing to do with ego?

If you are motivated by real desire instead of envy, you will have much greater self-control. The person motivated by what they do not possess is always out of control, by definition. They always need more and are crazy to get it. Do not lust after other people’s position, status, possessions, talents, relationships, or whatever else. That is the road to discontent and out-of-control behavior. Instead, look at your real heart and soul, ask it what it truly desires, and take responsibility to get it. Then you will be fulfilled, and enjoy what you have.

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