ehowton (ehowton) wrote,


I read recently where someone commented, "Jealously is healthy because that's how you show someone you care." While I was aghast at the misrepresentation of selfish, harmful rage being twisted into something positive, my own Achilles heel is most often the disconnect between logically understanding a thing and experiencing it contrarily. Rarely are the two reconciled quickly or painlessly. Empiricism can be an effective, if not sadistic, dominatrix.

Jealousy and envy, while distinctly unique, are often used synonymously because either can give rise to the other in a vicious cycle of dangerously self-defeating emotions; envy being sadness at another's good fortune, and jealously being a fear of loss. Both however, are scarily accurate for unhealthy negative selfishness (as opposed to the kind of Randian selfishness which allows for one to better cater to others' needs or the healthy envy which can be used as a motivator). No, this is about the black cloud of jealousy which is imbued with envy, all rolled into one. The bad kind. A kind of schadenfreude precursor where you desire the same pain and loss you're experiencing onto another or where you would consider harming yourself. That's never healthy.

Envy is outlined as one of the things decidedly not to be, according to a variety of secular and religious texts. For the sake of this entry, we'll use the ubiquitous "Seven Deadly Sins" often mistakenly attributed to the Bible - unsurprisingly so, as it was canonized by the Catholic Church if I'm using my religious terms correctly; sci-fi fans understand canonization at any rate, moreso Catholic sci-fi fans I suppose.

Envy as a "sin" is an insatiable desire, thou shalt not covet and all that. I place jealousy along side it as an insatiable desire to control another. Why is this bad? That's a longer discussion. In short, its an abomination to God and can deny you entrance into Paradise. Psychologically, envy (and jealousy) give rise to emptiness and a lack of self-worth in which lies numerous, deep-seeded insidious problems most of which conclude with being perpetually unhappy. The Buddhists consider it a poison, an "unwholesome mental factor" while the Hindus conclude it leads to misery.

There are ways to combat it - to not be subjugated to its harm, but you aren't going to like the answer because its not easy. Its called, "mindfulness" or being aware of your emotional weather during a variety of situations. Knowing I have this propensity to fall short of logical and emotional reactions, even with mindfulness I wasn't sure how I would feel if I purposefully positioned myself into jealousy's path as a test of my mettle. I wanted to report I had sincere love in my heart and did not cry out with burning pain, but understanding something and experiencing it as I said are often very different.

Christians claim to counter envy using kindness - the type which is freely given with no expectation of return. This type of kindness can manifest the best in us in unpredictable ways because it changes who we are and how we think. Buddhists call it muditā which is an empathetic, appreciative joy at delighting in other people's well-being, even if we happen to be simultaneously grappling with hardship ourselves. Take a moment to imagine that. For the reincarnation crowd its power is diminished simply by recognizing that the man or woman who is the object of one's envy is merely enjoying the fruits of their past karmic actions and that one should not allow such devious emotions to take control of their mind. There's even a word for the denotative opposite of jealousy in the polyamorous crowd - compersion - which is closely aligned with the Buddhist one; joy in your lover's joy when they are with another lover. Those who are rigidly traditional probably don't even understand the idea of that, as if any expression of love outside the normal paradigm were somehow perverted.

As a synopsis, its all just really high-level self-actualized stuff and I would not be so arrogant to assume that I'm the only one who studies the nature of the differences between my behavior and my underlying worldview. I do see a lot of people behaving badly and using faulty logic to justify it, but perhaps there really are people out there who are like me - gauging their knowledge against their known perceptions, attempting to temporarily bypass their filters and recording the outcomes, and I just can't find them. Or they're not talking about it - hiding in plain sight?

The outcome of my test? I'm pleased to report I passed. And it made me giddy. Which is, I suppose, entirely the point.

Tags: envy, philosophy

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