Sitting in a restaurant over a tasty steak dinner, your glance lingers on the woman at the next table. She is dressed in perfect taste, from the trendy haircut to the diamond rings on her fingers and the sharp outfit that clings to her exquisite figure, revealing not one extra pound of fat.
With a sigh you return to your meal and try to quench the burning envy that begins to flicker inside. You want that hairstyle, those clothes, that jewelry, her figure! You want it all, regardless of the fact that you earn a nice income, enjoy positive friendships, and are paying cash for your meal instead of using a credit card as the flawless woman is doing.
These longings are the trademarks of envy, a deadly disease that can kill our appreciation for others in a desire for their possessions as well as extinguishing any gratitude for the things we already have. If you find yourself in this position more than you would like, now is the time to take steps to stop lusting after the things that belong to other people:
- Appreciate all that you have. It may help to make a list of the things you have worked for and now enjoy. These might include a comfortable home, a drivable car, healthy children, and a nurturing spouse. Never take anything for granted, as you may lose it tomorrow and wish you had been more grateful.
- Put others’ possessions in perspective. That beautiful woman sitting nearby may be battling a deadly disease. Or her husband may have left her. Perhaps she is childless. Her job may be in jeopardy. Even when you know someone well enough to be aware these things aren’t true and the person is fairly happy, no one knows what the next day will bring–or take.
- Realize that everything comes with a price tag. Whatever you desire from others, chances are it would cost you plenty to get it. For example, if you are panting after your neighbor’s spouse, have you considered what effect an affair would have if both spouses and family members found out? Or if you decide to purchase a brand-new Lincoln Continental to keep up with the Joneses, how will you feel when you are unable to keep up with the payments and your car is repossessed?
- Work toward realistic goals. It’s neither bad nor uncommon to set goals and work to achieve them. But be sure they are reasonable and not idealistic. For example, you may want to make a six-figure income like your company’s vice-president. But are you willing to go to college for a degree, take extra classes for additional training, and work 70 to 80 hours a week to get where she is? If not, be happy with your $40,000 salary and enjoy those free weekends camping with the kids or out on the golf course instead of sweating over a last-minute report or interviewing new applicants.
- Develop emotional maturity. Realize that there will always be people who have more than you do. But there are several billion more on this planet who have far less. Be satisfied with what you have instead of grumbling about what others have. You can always take a part-time job to earn money for a few extras, like new furniture or summer camp for the kids. You don’t have to envy someone’s entire lifestyle; instead, put forth some additional effort to target a few things that are worth having.
Envy can destroy your life, eating through relationships and daily enjoyment of the simple pleasures all around you. Stop coveting other people’s things and start focusing on your own.