I’m puzzled and looking for feedback to better understand what I believe to be an epic problem in society, Envy.
There are lots of problems in our lives, in our communities, and the world, but I’d like to think many could be reduced with a little sincere encouragement. I have included the current definition from Wikipedia, but I don’t really like the definition. I just don’t understand the emotional baggage and vile veiled hatred demonstrated by those you and I call friends and family.
Envy is best defined as a resentful emotion that “occurs when a person lacks anothers superior quality, achievement or possession and wishes that the other lacked it.” Bertrand Russell said envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness. Wikipedia, it seems, everyone is happy for you as long as you are not taller, thinner, smarter, wealthier, or more “successful” than they are. Life is chugging along pretty well until “we change” something.
Healthy/Fitness – Wealth/Money – House – Car – Spouse – Children – Job – Vacation – Recreation > nothing seems immune from the vile.
One personal example in my life was obesity.
Over the years as I got older, less active, and ate out more, slowly I started packing on the pounds. While many friends liked to comment and joke on the fatter me, no one really seemed concerned including me. After suffering a serious bout of pneumonia where I was off work and bedridden for three months wondering whether or not I’d live through it, I decided it was time to get healthy. At first, family and friends were supportive. I lost 5lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs, and the feedback I received was positive. “Good for you, you look great”. Then at some magic point the feedback changed “you better not lose too much weight, you should stop, and the comment quickly changed to “you’re obsessed” “what are you trying to prove” “you’re getting too thin” …. What changed and why? People started confessing their eating and lack of exercise programs to me as if I was their priest. Was this their own guilt? I wasn’t judging, I just wanted to be healthier, feel better, look better, and improve my mental health by improving my physical health. Don’t we have the right to be healthy if we choose? Why does cheer leading from friends and family change to criticism, sarcasm, and the unspoken desire to see me fail?
“If any of my competitors were drowning, I’d stick a hose in their mouth.” – Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s
On a positive note, I’ve seen many people I care deeply about start eating better and exercising. Several people have sent notes saying they have been inspired to get fit by watching me. What’s funny is some have kept their move toward better health quiet out of fear of criticism.
I’m not looking for sympathy or complaining, just trying to understand what makes people do this? Why can’t we sincerely be happy for our friends, family, and others? I love to cheer others on in all areas of their life as they strive to reach their goals, whatever they may be. Not everything we do is a competition is it? Even if it is, don’t competitors and rivals leave it on the ice or field?
Maybe I’m just ignorant or wearing rose colored glasses.
FYI – my fitness program has saved my life and the life of many nasty people who have really ticked me off or picked on my family over the last couple years.
Another day that I choose to live, not die on the sidelines – Doug Morneau