We live in the age of envy. Thanks to social media, we are constantly being exposed to positive, beautiful, successful, photoshopped versions of our friends, families, colleagues, acquaintances, and even strangers’ lives. Social media is taking envy to the extreme, and as much as I don’t love to admit this, I get a bit green with envy (mostly of beautifully designed homes and women who are naturally and effortlessly thin).
Psychologists have recently suggested that there are two types of envy: malicious envy and benign envy. Malicious envy is proposed as a sick force that ruins a person and his/her mind while causing the envious person to blindly want the “hero” to suffer. On the other hand, benign envy is proposed as a type of positive, motivational force that causes the person to aspire to be as good as the “hero”—but only if benign envy is used in the right way. The only type of envy that can have positive effects is benign envy. According to researchers, benign envy can provide emulation, improve motivation, positive thoughts about the other person, and admiration. This type of envy, if dealt with correctly, can positively affect one’s future by motivating them to be a better person and to succeed.
Often envy involves a motive to “outdo or undo the rival’s advantages”. In part, this type of envy may be based on materialistic possessions rather than psychological states. Basically, people find themselves experiencing an overwhelming emotion due to someone else owning or possessing desirable items that they do not. But envy is more than desire. It begins with the almost frantic sense of emptiness inside oneself, as if the pump of one’s heart was sucking on air. One must be blind to perceive the emptiness, of course, but that’s what envy is, a selective blindness.
The circumstances in which you might be envious will always involve a social comparison or competition between yourself and another person. Such competition and comparison with others are a part of the yardstick by which you measure yourself, your self-evaluation. Since envy is triggered only when you come up short, that’s part of the reason why it is experienced as such an “ugly” emotion.
Envy has held us hostage for far too long. It is time, once and for all, to break free from envy and experience a more fulfilled life. This Suburban Goddess Mom’s life is too good to envy anyone else’s.