Psychology | Envy
When I bought my car, coincidentally it was the same make and model as my neighbour’s car. It wasn’t envy that motivated me, I just needed a car and that one was for sale. People often envy their neighbour’s possessions and people are often envious of others who have more money.
Fashion is driven by envy and although most religions dictate that envy is a sin, it makes capitalism work. It makes people compete against each other, companies compete against each other and even in sport, it is envy that drives competitiveness.
It can be a bad thing when it leads to greed and rather nasty behaviour. To try to do better for oneself is often a good thing and often envied. To try to harm someone else’s opportunities to do better is seen as spiteful and mean. People often envy people who have less money and possessions than themselves because they are perceived as being lazy or having an easier life.
Envy can even be a symptom of serious mental illness. It can lead to anger and many people with psychopathic tendencies become angry as a result of envy. People with psychopathic tendencies have no empathy for others, they just don’t care. They do however covet what others have and it’s not just their possessions! Envy is different from jealousy, jealousy is more personal and about people. Your girlfriend can make you jealous if she flirts with other guys for example; jealousy is about relationships not things.
Envy can be expensive, it can cost you money to compete with other people and have the latest fashions, designer clothes, latest smart phone and all the trappings of so called success. People are rarely envious of others who are more intelligent or better educated. We don’t admit other people are smarter than us though, do we? You don’t really need education to be successful anyway do you? What’s success anyway?
Envy can make people quite nasty and critical of others. Someone criticised me for being frugal this week. I don’t know whether the criticism was serious or not but I didn’t deny that I’m thrifty and frugal! I don’t envy what others have and don’t need a new car, foreign holidays or designer clothes. I do buy designer clothes sometimes and I look after my car but it doesn’t have to be a late model; it just has to be reliable.
The problem is we tend to be judged on the way we look and our possessions. Who isn’t influenced when we see someone smartly dressed step out of a limo or a Rolls Royce? I’m influenced, but not envious of their life style; I would hate to be in the public eye. We imagine being rich and having everything as being great but look at the number of rich people who turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with life. I know, I’d risk it as well!
I do admire some really talented people, is that envy? I do aspire to do as well as them. I want to write funnier blogs and listen intently to comedians and if I read something humorous I appreciate it. I like art too and really appreciate works of art. I suppose appreciation isn’t the same as envy; although I admire great musicians and composers that much that it borders on envy. Unfortunately, you can’t buy the talent required to be a great pianist or violinist. We can appreciate talent and creativity without being envious. We can even appreciate fashion and nice clothes without being envious and appreciate good food and wine without being envious. We can enjoy the good things, without being envious. It’s only envy when we covet the things we don’t have and are motivated in a bad way to acquire them. Then envy leads to debt, multiple credit and store cards and a life of slavery to the banks.
- Overcoming Jealousy (everydayhealth.com)