Don’t do envy

The GSS – the Great Singapore Sale is upon us again.  And I am not talking about the Singapore stock market here.

It’s an opportune time to remind ourselves of that one emotion that is the cause of the lack of wealth in the lives of many.  It is envy.

I have briefly written about envy here, and here, before.

For me, envy is such a huge levernegative in this caseto one’s happiness and subsequently to wealth (mind you, not only the monetary wealth!) that I want to share a few more thoughts on this malicious emotion.

Have you ever asked yourself what’s goes on under the hood of those people that you envy so much?

Would you still really want to be like them, once you knew how hard they worked to achieve what they are projecting to the outside world, or how unhappy they are?  Or how their private life is hardly existent because they are constantly in the lime-light with every step they take, or how they struggle to get to sleep at night because they are under such huge debts, trying to impress the world around them?

I guess we really have no idea.

In general, it is healthier not to entertain this social comparison bias because it places you in a negative position; therefore, wealth flows away from youinstead of to youas you cannot attract what you criticize.

One way to overcome this emotion is to say to yourself“Isn’t it wonderful!  I am happy for that man’s prosperity.  I wish him greater and greater wealth.”

Another way is to be more generous and give more away to others. Apparently it helps with the ‘depressing’ sight of seeing others doing better than yourself.

Move on and spend that saved “envy-time” thinking about how to get what you want for yourself.

To narrow down what you really want, bear in mind what William Morris reminded us of.  “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  And that includes that flashy, but utterly impractical ride in front of your house that you acquired just to impress a picture into your neighbours’ brains that you made it.  Did you really?

When you spend to impress, remember that those whom you’ve impressed will not be there to bail you out when the good times end.  So why bother?

You do not need to earn other people’s approval.  Who told you that this would be important in life?

Above all, conspicuous consumption is like a kind of arms race with no winner.  Every time you “move up”, it devalues the possessions of others.  Where does it end?

There is another aspect to consider.  Just imagine how much happier and (in the long run) wealthier you would be if you had bought basic functional appliances/cars/phones/watches/jewellery (is there functional jewellery in this world anyway?) all the while and had invested the money you saved for future consumption.

I conclude with a bit less self-pity, a bit less feeling you’ll never have enough to “have succeeded” and instead; with a bit more get-up-and-go and there would be nothing to envy.

I am sure these two friendly guys do not envy each other too much.  silence

Why not simply change perspective and find yourself the right person to compare to, and life would be so easy.

“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” — Oscar Wilde

“Enough is a feast.  Enough is abundance.” — Buddhist Proverb


I am curious to know how you personally deal with this malicious emotion of envy when it creeps up and tries to get the better of you.   Share with us—in the comments-box below.


  1. Cherries are cherries. Peaches are peaches. A
    Hi Andy,
    Cherry could never become a peach. It would’t be necessary. Even if it did, it wouldn’t be happy. We should live in a way that is true to ourselves. We could not become someone else, even if we wanted to. Our lives are precious and irreplaceable. In other words you are better off being the best cherry you can be rather than wishing you had been born a peach.

    • Hi Evon,
      What you say goes exactly along with my philosophy of defining success: The freedom to be myself.
      The challenge is to find your true self amidst all the internet rumble, noise, and marketing machinery humming around us trying to – or better, actually telling us how we should live our life.
      Are you a cherry or a peach?
      I do like both.

  2. Hmm Andy, testing testing … How come my comment doesn’t appear.

    Oh… I think we just let it come, and let it go. Envy is not malicious, just be mindful, Denial and suppression actually feed it. Happy is also an emotion, we let it be … Clinging to happiness destroy it, suppressing envy feed it

    • Hi SI,

      Looks like your comment does appear after all. Did you have problems commenting earlier on?

      Very wise words from you indeed.

      Mindfulness is the key word. Often we float through life without being mindful enough. We normally don’t question what the mind is telling us, especially when our thoughts are toned with a strong emotion like envy. But we should question our mind more often and let go of negative emotions faster.

      Mindfulness is potent because it changes the brain. Key word: brain plasticity.

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