Envy is the most ridiculous of ideas, because there is no single advantage to be gained from it.
An old saying goes,
“When you compare what you want with what you have, you will be unhappy. Instead, compare what you deserve with what you have, and you’ll discover happiness.”.
“It’s not trying to keep up with the Joneses that cause so much trouble – it’s trying to pass them.”
The only competition worthy of a wise man is himself. Nothing gets you behind faster than trying to keep up with people who are already there. If envy were a disease, most people would be sick. Frances Bacon observed that “Envy has no holidays. It has no rest”. The envy that compares us to others is foolishness. In the Holy Book says “they are only comparing themselves with each other; and measuring themselves by themselves. What foolishness!
Envy is one of the most subtle forms of judging others. Richard Evans said, “May we never let the things we can’t have or don’t have, spoil our enjoyment of the things we do have and can have”. What makes us disconnected with our personal condition is the absurd belief that others are so much happier than we are. Thomas Fuller therefore warned, “Comparison, more than reality, makes men happy or wretched”. Hence, Helen Keller advised, “Instead of comparing our lot with those who are more fortunate than we are) we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellowmen. It then appears that we are among the privileged”. Envy consumes nothing but its own heart. It is a kind of admiration for those whom you least want to praise. As an Irish proverb says, ‘You’ve got to do your growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was”.
You’ll find it’s hard to be happier than others if you believe others to be happier than they are. Thinking about others all day long results in a distorted view of you and them. Whatever you’re doing looks smaller; whatever they’re doing looks bigger. They look happier, which makes you sadder. They look perfect; you can’t see anything but your own problems. When you’re green with envy, you’re ripe for trouble. Josh Chrysostom reflected, “As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man”. There are many roads to an unsuccessful life, but envy is among the shortest of them all.