Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Envy: The Green-Eyed Monster

A couple weeks ago, the green-eyed monster appeared at my door. I didn't recognize him at first because it had been years since I'd seen him. He pushed past me and invited himself in for tea. Then he shared with me his thoughts on what I lack---things that other people have that I should surely have too.

I was intrigued, and against my better judgment, I offered him more tea....and some cake. I told him (in a whiny voice) that I do want these things, but that they always seemed to elude me. Envy took my hand and looked very sorry for me, indeed. He said, "There, there, dear---don't worry. You can have what those people have. You can have whatever it is your heart desires. You just have to want it enough.

When he'd had his fill of tea and treats, Envy bid me goodbye for the day and left me alone to contemplate the things that other people have that I don't. I decided that if they could have it, so could I. Surely I could want it enough to make it so.

But wanting it is addictive. Wanting it possesses us. Wanting what we don't have is the stuff that the green-eyed monster lives on (that, along with tea and good company!)

And then finally, after moping around for several day, the inevitable thought occurred to me, "What you already have is pretty great. Why don't you try focusing on that and just see what happens?" So I did. And with nothing left to sustain him (and in a poof of green smoke), Envy was gone.

Envy vs. Jealousy

Although the words "envy" and "jealousy" are often used interchangeably, their meanings do differ in one important way. Envy is when we desire something that we don't have, while jealousy is the fear of losing something that we value. The common thread is our need or desire to "possess."

So, what is your relationship with the green-eyed monster?