Coping with Envy

envy

How to keep a lid on envy? We envy because we are blind to the bigger picture. For example, when we envy our neighbour for his shiny convertible car, we mostly ignore all the efforts and sacrifices that have gone into affording it, to say nothing of the many risks and inconveniences of driving such a car. In the words of Charles Bukowski, ‘Never envy a man his lady. Behind it all lays a living hell.’ In life, we are rich not only by what we have, but also and above all by what we do not. It is all too easy to forget that the investment banker or hedge fund manager has effectively sold his soul for his ‘success’, with so little spirit left in him that he no longer has the vital capacity to enjoy the advantages that he has acquired. Such a man is not to be envied but pitied. To keep a lid on envy, we have to keep on reframing, and reframing requires perspective.

Adapted from Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions

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Author: Neel Burton

Neel Burton is a psychiatrist, philosopher, writer, and wine-lover who lives and teaches in Oxford, England. He is author of Hypersanity: Thinking Beyond Thinking, The Meaning of Madness, Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions, and other books. You can find Neel on Twitter and Facebook, and at www.neelburton.com

3 thoughts on “Coping with Envy”

  1. Been noticing your thoughts online of late. Fascinating mix of psychology, philosophy, spirituality. Definitely gonna read your books, starting with Heaven&Helll.

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