Envy is a really tough emotion – a cross between a yearning for the good fortune bestowed on another and hostility toward the individual for having the good fortune. Even if the lucky one is a good friend, irrational though it is, envy sometimes runs the show.
“It’s not fair…. why me…. why not me….I’ve worked just as hard…. Why don’t I have his luck…. ?” This is what the internal dialogue of envy sounds like. When you are caught in the grip of envy, you feel pain, alienation, and a joy-sucking pit in your stomach.
Envy is not a new emotion, but it’s been given a new power-boost. Thanks to social media, we can now sit by and watch the parade of other people’s happiness, 24/7. It has an addictive quality to it. We know it is hurting us, making us sad. We play the less than/more than comparison game on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram…. and yet we keep going back for more.
Today’s Letting go exercise: Break down envy by building up joy
- When it comes to working with envy, you really want to center yourself. Don’t skip this step! Take a few deep belly breaths and get grounded. Watch Karen’s breathing demo for a closer look.
- Start by remembering when you felt unburdened joy for someone. Perhaps while watching a child play with care-free abandon, or an animal running unrestrained. Notice how easily you connect with and share in the joy of this being when envy is not present.
- Now think of a time when you felt a weighed down by envy for a friend’s free time, a sibling’s income, or a co-worker’s talent. Notice the sting of envy.
- Rest. Take a break from feeling the injustice. Shift your gaze if necessary. Rest again if feelings of resentment come back. Turn your thoughts back to the carefree joy you felt by practice step two.
- Try to return to the situation that causes the sense of lacking, but this time apply joy. Join in with the joy of the good fortune. Picture joy as an underground spring with a limitless source. Trust that there is enough joy for everyone.
We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!