A Dive Into Envy

Recall a time when you felt envy. It’s a particular kind of stinging pain, isn’t it? How might your life be different if you could tame your green-eyed monster?

If you are reading Onward then you know that each chapter explores a habit and disposition of a resilient person and in addition takes a dive into an emotion. This month as we explore Chapter 8: Cultivate Compassion, we also take a dive into envy. So first a couple quick definitions: Envy is pain over something you don’t have; jealousy is fear of losing something you already have. Watch Geshe Tashi Tsering – How to Stop Being Envious of Others. This perspective of envy gives me hope. As does the way that Onward shares how you can use the compassion that you are cultivating for yourself and others as an antidote to envy.

Elena Aguilar shares the following two ways to use compassion as a response to envy (from Chapter 8 of Onward):

  1. When you notice envy arising in yourself, pay attention to what it’s trying to tell you? What’s behind it? What’s missing from your life? Which other emotions are connected to your envy? Is there sadness? A yearning for love and appreciation? Be kind to yourself. Your envy is trying to tell you something about a part of you that is hurting. If you only get any with it, you won’t learn. Use the self-compassion muscles you’re building to courageously turn to your envy and be with it.
  2. You might find relief from your envy if you practice compassion for the other person. When someone gets something or has some success, if you can be genuinely happy for this person, you can temper your envy. Remind yourself that nobody has it all. Everyone experiences pain; everyone has troubles. Recognize your interdependence, shared humanity, and interconnectedness. we are all connected, so the good fortune of another can bring a positive benefit to you, too.

Envy happens. It is deeply corrosive to our well-being and resilience and relationships. When envy surges through your system examine it, understand it, and face it head-on, using compassion as a tool.