Are you the jealous type? You may say to yourself you’re not. Or you know you are, but you just don’t want to admit it. Maybe you don’t even know you are. The reality is most of us look at our lives, what we have or are and compare them to someone else. We look at those who we’ve classified as “successful” and want what they have. Sometimes, it’s not even success, rather, we simply look at someone else and reflect on our lives only to come to the realization we are just not quite “there” yet. That my friend is, envy.
Envy really isn’t the greatest character trait. I for one, will be the first to admit I often struggle with envy. I am not proud of it. It’s embarrassing honestly. Envy is like that unwanted pimple on your face. It pops up out of nowhere. Sometimes it’s painful and can even explode revealing the impurities in our bodies. Gross isn’t it? Well envy is gross too. Similar to a pimple, envy reveals impurities in our lives. Our spiritual lives, that is.
Whenever envy pops up, I’ve tried to use it for good. Pimples are never good, so really I have nothing there, but envy, you can use this to become a better version of yourself.
We envy because we want “more,” right? Envy is an indicator that you aspire to be more, do more and while I do not entirely agree with this, “to have more”. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having, but envy can quickly turn into greed if the ultimate goal is simply to have out of want rather than need. And there isn’t anything wrong with wanting out of want, but there is no profit in greed and lusting on the things of this world. If that is our heart, we will never be satisfied. More on this on another blog post, but lets get back to envy.
The idea of “more” is linked to the idea of “success.” We envy because in our minds, the person we compare ourselves to are “more successful” than we are. Success looks differently for everyone. In order to utilize, envy, first you need to define success for yourself. What does that look like? When you look at your life and truly analyze where you’re at and where you want to be, what does your version of success look like? It may be starting a business, becoming an influencer, reading more books, going for daily walks with your spouse. Whatever success looks like, write that down or hold that definition in your thoughts.
What is success?
Success first begins within oneself. The downfall is, too many of us define success by looking at others. We look at those who we’ve classified as “successful” and want what they have, be where they are etc. Say this, “I want what [insert person] has.” Read that sentence two or three more times. Feeling kind of crummy, huh? Envy isn’t all that good and once we’ve come to terms that this is something we are struggling with the truck does not stop there. We cannot park envy in the driveway of our hearts and thoughts. If we do that, then we’ll be stuck in a rut. Rather, use envy to turn those wishful thinking of success into reality.
One of my favorite definition of success comes from John Wooden. He states success is
Peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction, is knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.
Did you write down earlier what success looks like to you? Did you tuck that away in your thoughts? Let’s revisit that. Have you made an effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming? Success never occurs overnight. It requires daily steps and in each step moving forward making intentional moves in achieving your goals. If your goal is to lose weight, have you joined a gym, weight-loss program, or thrown away the junk food in your home? If your goal is to start school and get a degree, have you sent out your applications and gotten started? If your goal is get married, are you the best version of yourself that you hope your significant other would be?
Success looks different for everyone. For some it’s wealth, for others is simply to have a family that looks differently than the home life they grew up in. Whatever your version of success looks like, go for it! Too many of us are stuck in our “stuckness” and have become comfortable scrolling through Instagram and Facebook playing the pity games. You may have valid excuses; however, you indorse whether those valid excuses will keep you where you are.
From my very limited experience, I’ve learned to do three things with envy when they pop up in my heart and thoughts. The first is very simple. It’s, say a prayer. Whether you’re Christian or not, don’t skip over this one. It can be as simple as “Jesus, please remove envy from my heart.” Trust me, there’s something sacred about acknowledging our hearts and minds are in need of a Savior from the ugly that creeps in.
The second step really isn’t a step, rather is a heart/mind shift. This is, be happy for others. A distasteful character is one that envies others’ successes and rejoices in their failures. This creates a bitterness that displays itself in ugly forms. If you find yourself hating others for their success, begin publicly rejoicing them. Force yourself to leave that comment on their social media feed. Say, “I am proud of you,” “That’s awesome,” “Way to go.”’ It will be difficult in the beginning. Let’s be real, you may even feel as if you’re being a hypocrite for leaving positive comments knowing deep within you are far from happy for them, but in time you will begin to believe what you’re speaking. Or in this case, writing.
I once heard someone say, “It’s difficult to pray mean prayers for others.” Your “celebrating of others” will eventually become real to you. You will eventually believe them. By doing this simple step, you are making your way to understanding what success really is. It is your attitude towards yourself, towards others, and towards life. But it first begins with, self.
That leads to the third step. Do that “thing.” You know what you keep saying you will do. That “thing” people keep saying you were born to do, or you keep dreaming about and get drifted by in your thoughts. Get started. Quit endorsing your “valid excuses.” Shut those down and grind towards your dream. You can even start with telling someone what that “thing” is.
A friend told me once, “When you say it out loud, it becomes real!” Too often we keep to ourselves our dreams and they remain dreams. Tell someone what you are planning to do. Someone you can trust, and you know will be in your corner and keep you accountable. And if you don’t have someone, shoot me a message. I will cheer you on! Say it out loud and watch it become real. Don’t let envy keep you in a rut any longer. Pop that pimple of envy, reveal the impurities of your heart and get to healing. Healing is you acknowledging the issue, applying words that speak life to those who have allowed to unconsciously become a part of the sore of envy and take action towards your dreams.
I’ll conclude with this. My late grandfather told me as a child, quoting a scripture verse from Matthew 16:26. It reads,
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Losing your soul, he shared, is envying what others have and looking in pity at our wants that we become people envying other people and failing to recognize the potential in oneself. From a spiritual standpoint, it’s trading our relationship with Christ in order to get to wealth or fame. Ultimately, you will never be satisfied, and you will lose your soul for eternity; a complete separation from Christ. Whatever you do, do honorably. Use envy, to get to places you’ve thought were only dreams and in the process, don’t loose who you are and most importantly, don’t lose your soul.
What are you doing with envy?