Roadblocks to Joy: Jealousy & Envy

O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on

~ Shakespeare in Othello, 1604

Jealousy and envy are similar concepts.  I’ve heard the terms distinguished in this way:

  • Jealousy is wanting something so badly that you can’t be satisfied without it, and you may even be willing to harm others to get it.
  • Envy is not so much wanting to get something you don’t have; instead, the focus is on not wanting others to have it, either.

I think the “green-eyed monster” is a fitting description for both situations.

Jealousy is the malign feeling which is often had toward a rival, or possible rival, for the possession of that which we greatly desire, as in love or ambition. Envy is a similar feeling toward one, whether rival or not, who already possesses that which we greatly desire.

Jealousy is enmity prompted by fear; envy is enmity prompted by covetousness.

Century Dictionary by William Dwight Whitney, 1889

one tiny eye of the

Do you gripe and complain about your “tiny” house and drool over the homes across town with the pool houses and big back yards?

one tiny eye of the Do you work overtime every week, to the neglect of spending time with your family, because you are saving up for that new model truck or boat?

one tiny eye of the Do you daydream of ways to besmirch the reputation of a coworker so that you’ll have a better chance at getting the promotion you are desperate to have?

one tiny eye of the Were you glad to live in your double-wide trailer until your “rich” cousins moved into their new three-story brick house on the lake?

one tiny eye of the Were you happy to drive your older vehicle until one of your friends pulled up in their shiny new one?

one tiny eye of the Were you glad to be able to financially “keep your head above water” until you found out that a coworker receives a much larger paycheck than you do?

If so, the green-eyed monster has you in its grips and is slowly (or quickly?) choking the joy out of your life.

These insidious attitude problems do not always involve tangible items, either — lives have been brought to ruin due to jealousy/envy for love, attention, prestige…on and on the list goes.

When will we learn to enjoy what we have without being discontent for more and without weighing our blessings on a scale against our neighbor’s blessings?  That’s when our levels of happiness can soar to new heights.