We are all taught that envy is a terrible thing. from when we are children, we were told to be envious is to be unpleasant and as adults, we are made to feel being envious is somehow petty and beneath us. And yet, we all feel it. Time and time again, we find ourselves shamefully and secretly envious of others. I hear people say all the time: “I don’t see the point of envy. So I don’t do it. I just don’t bother with being envious.”
Now we can safely say that nothing in that statement is entirely accurate. If you’re not a lizard or dead, you have feelings. And envy is going to be one of them, whether you want to admit it or not (but you really should admit it, at the very least to yourself).
The other part of that statement is also not entirely true. There is so much value in envy and it would be a shame to ignore it, reject it, and pretend it doesn’t belong to us. In fact, envy, like fear (and boredom and loneliness and rejection and just about any feeling you don't want to have), has so much valuable data within it. We just have to invite it into our homes get to know one another.
You might ask, “Why do you exist?” to which it might answer “To teach you something about yourself.”
With enough curiosity, you may realize that the person at the gym is not actually the object of your envy, but rather, the discipline, perseverance, precision, confidence, stamina, and vigor.
When we begin to break apart the situations and people we envy, we realize it's not about them at all. It’s about the virtues those situations and people inhabit, the mind-set and heart-set they embody. We envy the person who got the promotion at work because we envy the risk-taking, truth-speaking, ingenuity, and courageousness.
Perhaps we should all begin inviting envy into our homes. And for that matter, shame, guilt, loneliness, boredom, jealousy, sadness, rejection….offer them a cup of tea, sit across from them and be curious. After all, they exist for a reason and they are invariably a part of us. As annoying as they might be, they also deserve to be loved.