Envy and how to defeat it
Worth it just for the impersonation.
Also big positive/zero sum energy, if Mr Wright is struggling for a topic next time you chat.
Jon Haidt's version is common humanity which captures that much political gnashing of teeth is actually garden variety... envy.
Also: top Substack joke-teller 💪
Thought-provoking as usual Professor.
First, I’d like to offer the idea (not mine*, so please don’t anyone envy me if you wish you’d thought of it) that greed is the mother of all sin, which I interpret as excessive (harmful) desire for anything. Thus greed = excessive desire = sin. Sloth is greed for comfort; gluttony is greed for food and drink; lust is greed for sex. Pride and anger, as you mention, are only sinful in excess - this is a language problem. For example, excess is built into the meaning of gluttony. Excessive pride is greed to feel superior (excessive self-worth); excessive anger is the feeling of being wronged plus excessive pride; and envy is anger plus greed for what another has (coveting). So, in a sense, your thesis that envy is the worst is understandable, as it contains anger, which contains pride, plus coveting!
Second, I would have added three other whoppers to the list of 7: authoritarianism - greed to control others; cowardice - greed for safety; and attention-seeking - greed for attention. ‘Nuff said these days, I reckon.
Third, and finally, my recommendation to overcome envy: learn to be happy with who you are, not what you do or have. Then your only worry is sloth!
* From one of Idries Shah’s books; sorry, I don’t remember which one. My explication of the idea is my own, though.
Great piece. I'm really glad to have learned about BIRGing, that's pretty cool.
Envy is especially insidious at this moment in history because our digital systems seem so effectively designed to use our envy to take advantage of us.
The plus side is that now there's now digital technology that can serve to offset this:
Perfect post for the day's wordle!
This is my hearty congratulations to you for a great post and for writing a great Substack!
[shoves his substack envy way down into his boots]
Great stuff! I think you could also come at envy from a clinical perspective. What core beliefs are underpinning our sense that we should have what a close other has? Are we aware when we're filtering out the good stuff, failing to count our blessings? I think it helps to help a client identify those core beliefs and recognize that filter.
I guess you're getting at that with the idea of consciously switching the hierarchy, but my instinct is to explore deeper existential issues. I'd expect once someone deals with why another's good fortune is threatening, the envy dissipates.
And when I speak of you, I see envy in other men's eyes
And I'm well aware of what's on their minds
They pretend to be my friend, when all the time
They long to persuade you from my side
They'd give the world and all they own
For just one moment we have known
"Bernadette" - The Four Tops
Thanks, Paul, for a great read as always! I wonder if we are the only ones who get envious, how we evolved to be so, and at what age we develop it. Though I sense only a whole book would answer this.
"...and with luck, your spirit will come into synch with your actions." A smart caveat! As per your own observation: we can fake our actions/gestures but not our feelings. A feeling sublimated in forced action is liable to rebound if one is "without luck".
I understand that billionaires envy one another, but I don't understand why. And I don't understand why so many billionaires fight so hard to keep unions away or to avoid paying taxes. It seems to me the point of getting rich is that you don't have to worry about money anymore. But that doesn't seem to be how it works. Why not?