The Antidote to Envy
“Whatever I am, that I want to understand.”
I recently came across a passage from Krishamurti’s Think On These Things that gave me pause. I rarely highlight entire paragraphs when I read, but this one was so poignant that I had to elevate it from the page and into my memory.
Here it is:
I am envious because I want to be as beautiful as you are; I want to have the fine clothes, the elegant house, the high position that you have. Being dissatisfied with what I am, I want to be like you; but, if I understood my dissatisfaction and its cause, then I would not want to be like you or long for the things that you have.
In other words, if once I begin to understand what I am, then I shall never compare myself with another or be envious of anyone. Envy arises because I want to change myself and become like somebody else. But if I say, “Whatever I am, that I want to understand,” then envy is gone; then there is no need of discipline, and out of the understanding of what I am comes integration.
I’ve since re-read this paragraph many times, and there’s one sentence that continues to capture my attention:
Whatever I am, that I want to understand.
Today, I want to talk about what it means to know yourself, and how this results in the elimination of envy.
I’d like to start with an observation: Some people are open about their struggles with envy, while the majority hide it. I’m calling it an observation because I can’t point to a research paper that clearly shows this asymmetry, yet my personal exploration of human nature indicates that this is likely true.
Simply put, envy is one of those complicated emotions that hasn’t had its time in the spotlight yet. Vulnerability came on center stage when Brene Brown gave a popular TED Talk on it, while depression has emerged as something that’s okay to discuss in recent years. Envy, however, hasn’t quite found that comfort zone. Revealing that you’re an envious person won’t yield much sympathy, and is often accompanied by a sense of shame that you feel this way.
But envy is one of the most pervasive problems in today’s world, especially as social media normalizes the successes of others, making you feel…