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.
For me, envy is such a huge lever—negative in this case—to 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 you—instead of to you—as 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.
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.