Envy Indicates Secret Admirers

December 22, 2016

Envy is the sixth mortal sin. Located between anger and vanity, it is a deep grudge that a person feels towards someone who has something he wants, like wealth, power, beauty or anything else. It is a vice that is sometimes hard to avoid, but one that nobody wants to feel, because feeling envy means feeling small, and sometimes secretly admiring someone.

Every day we experience situations where we cannot avoid comparing ourselves to others. A brother who seems to get more affection from our parents. A coworker who earns more money than we do. A neighbor who has a better car than us. Comparisons end up being painful if we feel we are on the losing end.

“No one can be envious of good deeds who has confidence in his own virtue.”

-Cicero-

Richard H. Smith, professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, claims that “envy is corrosive and ugly; it can ruin your life. If you are an envious person, it will be very difficult for you to appreciate the good things in life, because you will be overly worried about what people think about you.”

Studies on envy

Researchers have tried to understand the neural and evolutionary pathways of envy and through what means it can end up feeling like a physical illness. Research has even been done on the sensation of pleasure that a person feels when the object of envy falls apart.

Last year, the results of two studies conducted by Nicole E. Henniger and Christine R. Harris were published in the psychology journal “Basic and Applied Social Psychology.” Nearly 900 people between the ages of 18 and 80 years old participated in these studies, in which they were asked if they had felt envious towards someone and if they still feel this envy today.

Twin Putting Flower in Hair

Around 80% of those surveyed who were under the age of 30 claimed to have felt envy in the past year, while the percentage of people older than 50 years old who said they had felt envy was 59%. Another conclusion that was drawn from the study was that envy does not depend on sex, as men and women are equally envious in the face of other people’s success.

“The most admirable thing in a noble man is knowing how to accept and imitate the virtues of others.”

-Confucius-

A study conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan was published in the journal “Science,” in which they describe the brain images of subjects who were asked to imagine themselves as the protagonists of social drama with other people who are more or less successful.

When the person compared himself with someone he envied, the regions of the brain involved in registering physical pain were activated. If the person studied was given the chance to imagine that the envied subject came to ruin, the brain’s reward circuits were activated.

To envy or to admire

Sometimes we talk about healthy envy or admiration, and if we are really capable of positively focusing our desire, envy can become a stimulus for improvement, as it can show us a goal to seek. We can envy the abilities of other people and this can move us to become better people ourselves.

But if envy turns into a negative desire towards the other person, it transforms into a focus of frustration and insecurity and it will make us see a distorted reality, which will hold us back from making changes to become better people.

Friends Hugging Flowers in Hair

We can turn envy into admiration when we consider the other person with our heart and emotional intelligence, when we are happy for their progress, their skills, or their possibilities, and when we share their success. The word admire comes from “ad” (add to) and “mirare” (see), that is, it is a matter of seeing more in another person, seeing the best in another person, and that will motivate us to have goals and to work to achieve them.

“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”

-Albert Einstein-