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    Thoughts: Envy vs. Inspiration

    January 30, 2018

    There is a delicate balance between Envy and Inspiration. 

    For example, how often will you see someone else do something and desire those qualities? It is common. Maybe, everyday we feel this way. We see a beautiful photo and desire their photography skills, we see beautiful bodies and desire their 6 pack abs, we see beautiful meals and desire their cooking abilities, we see beautiful homes and desire their money, jobs, brains, luck etc….the list goes on.

    I did a road trip down California’s coast with a Spanish friend I met on Couchsurfing. We had this discussion. It started with a discussion of social media and the technology of “going live” and our motivations to do so. This technology is most popular with SnapChat and Instagram. With the “going live” technology, you can real time broadcast your life to al of your “followers.” You can also record videos, edit them, and post them in real time for everyone to see. Why do we do this?

    I proposed that people do this so that others can see, and in turn, validate whether or not what we are doing in the moment is cool. We edit the photos with the hope of receiving a positive validation. She suggested an alternative. She suggested that people “go live” so they can share with others at the request of others. Meaning, that they would not be going live unless they thought other people would be thankful that they shared.

    Like or not like

    As the conversation continued, it evolved into two sides of the coin – whether we share to inspire or whether we share to create envy (validation). This, in turn, depends on the viewer as well. Whether they watch and get inspired, or whether they watch and become envious.

    Lets talk about this….

    First, what is the definition of Envy? What is the definition of inspiration?

    • Inspiration: The receipt the feeling of mental motivation to do something.
    • Envy: The longing for someone else’s possessions or qualities.

    Both emotions stem from the same origin or input. Meaning one can feel either or both emotions following any of these in any circumstance, the difference is how we personally internalize the circumstance.

    With that said, I think that both emotions are valid, it just depends on the person.

    What kind of person will feel envious and what kind of person will feel inspired?

    I think it depends on on our self-opinion of worth. Let me explain. Doing a comparison between ourselves and someone else is completely normal, we do it everyday. It is not bad to compare yourself to others as long as that comparison doesn’t affect your feeling of self-worth positively or negatively, meaning it is bad if we use others to make ourselves feel better or worse about ourselves. Our opinion of ourselves should be stable and independent of the status of others. To be stable in our opinion of self-worth requires understanding our self-worth in a context independent of others. This is very difficult, because without reference points (other people) it is impossible to measure pretty much everything. But, maybe that is okay. Maybe, it is better to disregard other’s as reference points and simply, BE, independently.

    Two more thoughts…..

    I think those who feel envious often feel like victims AKA victimhood. The victim complex, as defined as the culture in which people believe they receive unfair suffering, and in some cases, desire that suffering so they can blame their undesired situation on the cause of their suffering, is related to envy. The correlation stems from the idea that the “chips are stacked against them.” Those who feel this way with feel more envious of others and channel that envy into hate, search for flaws in the other person, or both. They search for small inferiorities in the other person to defend their opinion that their result is unfair. This person is likely insecure in their self-worth and does not want to take the responsibility for their situation.

    *In some cases, the chips are, in fact, stacked. Then the person is a real victim. This example assumes equality in potential, but difference in result.

    Lastly, the next time we get the green envy boiling inside, realize that is is a problem is probably with ourselves instead of the other. Instead of feeling happy for the other person and getting inspiration, if we feel an envy that lowers our opinion of self-worth, recognize that the issue is with ourselves instead of the other person and that comparing is not meaningful or worthwhile.

    What are your thoughts?