» Envy: A Deadly Sin and Great Motivator

by John Brhel on August 31, 2011

It’s nearly the start of the school year and my friend can’t find a job teaching anywhere.

The grass is always greener

He’s got a degree from a reputable school, years of solid experience and a likeable personality, just no luck at the moment. So, when he sees former classmates, some of whom are younger with less experience, getting jobs he’s qualified for, he goes ballistic. “How the hell did he get a job at ___ High School and I can’t even get an interview!” he screams. Rather than be happy for the success of others, he’s pouting and calling nepotism on his friends.

He’s turning his envy into something negative and destructive, when he could be using it to his advantage.

Whether you’re full-swing into the rat race or still balancing beer pong tournaments with 5,000 word essays, you can learn something from this situation: Envy can be positive or negative depending on what you do with it.

If you go to the gym and see some dude in tip-top shape benching double your max, don’t get pissy or instantly chalk his bulk up to steroids. Don’t give up either or think “I could never get there”, “I don’t have the body for it,” etc. My friend got so upset he couldn’t find a job and others less qualified could, he stopped looking as much. Envy can lead to self-destruction and stress. Just ask Buddha.

“Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.” –Buddha

If you see somebody achieve something that you wish you could, use it as motivation. Say your friend just scored a sweet joband you’remiserable serving coffee to yuppies. Don’t get pissed and fling a latte at a customer (not unless he asks for a specific foam-to-espresso ratio. In that case, go for it.) Collect your tips, go home and get proactive about finding a job outside the java universe. Turn your envy into something positive, as suggested by professor Robert Bringle.

“Envy can be a positive motivator. Let it inspire you to work harder for what you want.” –Robert Bringle

We all get envious of others. I wish my music career was going better and get jealous when I see others I know further along in their pursuits. Do I wish for their downfall? Do I hope all their gear gets stolen and/or they lose the ability to sing? Of course. But then I calm down, count to ten and get rational. I should send out more demos and network more, I think. I turn that poor me attitude into a can-do attitude. I see what others have and do my best to achieve similar results for myself without getting negative or angry or hoping my friend’s record label goes out of business.

Whether you’re envious of some guy’s job, body, house or Dunks, chill out and use your energy for personal good. Make the necessary changes. In the meantime, pat your friend, coworker, classmate, or former beer pong teammate on the back, because someday you’ll be right there with them. Channel your energy the right way and you’ll be someone to envy. Just be ready to be hated.

About the Author

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John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life’s idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.

See All Posts by John Brhel



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