It’s one of the seven deadly sins and it’s also something we all hide oh so well – envy. Not only is envy described as “a transgression which is fatal to spiritual progress,” it’s an emotion that is considered shameful, embarrassing, and most importantly, best kept to ourselves.
With our society spending more and more time scrolling through our Instagram feeds, aka checking out everyone’s highlight reel, the emotion of envy has become even more present and alive. From desiring Kylie Jenner’s perfect pout, to wishing we had Beyonce’s Queen B status, to longing for the IT-girl pair of jeans, it’s hard to even get through the day without our envy alarm sounding off.
The reality is that envy is a useless emotion - it reflects a miscalculation in the relative worth of things. By playing the constant game of comparison, we tend to turn the success of others into a judgement of ourselves, but what we forget is that many lives are not as they appear. In fact, when we strip away the filters and the curated images, we will often be surprised at what we find.
It’s been almost three months since fashion designer and icon, Kate Spade took her life, and although many days have passed, her death still leaves us shaking our heads wondering “why?”. Not only was Kate Spade a successful fashion icon who was wealthy and had a loving family, but her brand exuded an air of playfulness, creativity, ambition, happiness and beauty. It’s difficult to look at a woman like Kate Spade and not feel less – less wealthy, less accomplished, less talented.
The question we often forget to ask is how can happiness possibly be equated to our accomplishments or success when they only tell one part of the story and don’t reveal all the other little nuances and details – some of which we ourselves even try to ignore. Despite Kate Spade’s success and wealth, it has become evident she was struggling. And chances are the woman whose career promotion you saw on LinkedIn that you are longing for and want for yourself, or the girl whose wardrobe you wish you could possess is dealing with her own set of struggles, and they could be similar to your own.
Beginning to view envy in a new light allows us to flip the switch on the emotion and become more empathetic, compassionate and loving people. So, the next time you start to feel envy rising in your mind, recognize it’s a miscalculation. Instead, compliment the person on what he or she has that is making you feel inadequate. It’s this kind of realness and vulnerability that’s ultimately going to drive down our walls, and allow us to forge deep connections, create true happiness and realize that we’re all more alike than we are different.