Covid-19 pandemic made us realize that technology is a really powerful thing. With workers from different industries who have managed to work from home and even students who are now using and relying heavily to online platforms, we can say that indeed, the new normal is digital. With that, it is safe to assume that the time we spent in using our laptops and smartphones had also increased. Face to face socialization has decreased and has changed into digital socialization thru social media platforms.
Relaxation and quality time nowadays are also shifting from going outside for a walk or watching a movie with your friends and loved ones at your favorite malls and cinemas have also changed. Our “me time” now become so literal that we are learning to enjoy things on our own with the aid of technology, particularly the social media wherein the negativities are rampant and affects our mental health.
Have you ever experienced using your spare time browsing your newsfeed on Facebook or/and Instagram looking at the seemingly perfect photos or news about your celebrity crushes, or even your friends and their achievements? Then what seemed to be a fun experience gradually faded and eventually made you feel bad about your own life or perhaps made you hate that person even though they are doing nothing against you?
That feeling of discontentment after seeing others appearing to have better lives than you has a name. Envy.
What is envy?
According to Mr. Louie de Jesus, a registered psychologist from the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), “Envy is a feeling of wanting to have someone’s possession, quality or attribute arising from one’s discontent of his/her own status/condition.”
According to Roman Catholicism on the other hand, this emotion is believed to be one of the seven deadly sins next to pride, greed, and lust. Rev. Fr. Eugene Elivera, who is also an author, said that envy can be traced back to the story of Adam and Eve. They were tempted that they will also become like God as they were not contented with what they already had – they aspired to be like God. Moreover, the story of their first two sons, Cain and Abel has also something to do with envy when one killed his own brother. Rev. Fr. Elivera also added that “Envy is being discontented with the self and being resentful about others. It is deadly.”
Both psychological and religious perspectives agree to the idea that envy is harmful. What is most concerning is that it could be detrimental not only to the envied person but more on to the envious person because it fuels further sin or wrongdoings.
There are many ways in which we can experience envy and it is not limited to the digital world in which I mentioned above. It could be inside your circle–family, friends, at work, etc.
Envy is a common emotion, all of us may experience it depending on how we perceive a situation involving another person. Specifically, we may experience this when we compare ourselves to others and when we want to obtain something another person has. It could be a material thing, achievement or anything that they possess that we also wish to have. Most of the time, envy may also be associated with insecurities, or ill feelings toward the envied person.
Because envy focuses on the things that a person does not have, it gives us a false idea of wanting those things and we think that it will make us happier. It devours our sense of self and peace of mind by wanting to obtain those things even though it is not applicable to us.
It amplifies our deep-seated feelings of inferiorities and insecurities within ourselves so we really need to listen to those “internal cues” in order for us to address our issues and counter the negative effects of envy.
We must always put in our minds that envy is only triggered by what and how we perceive things outside ourselves, so the concern that needs to be addressed is within us and not to our surroundings because we cannot always control our environment.
We cannot always choose to see what we want to see; we cannot always choose to hear what we only want to hear. We cannot blame others from their achievements, seemingly perfect looks, or even simple joys just because you feel bad or you envied them. What we can control is our reaction towards our surroundings.
Remember that there are many ways to kill our own happiness, to harm and hate others, and to ruin oneself, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to envy. We are all different and what seemed to be a nice or perfect life for others may not be applicable to you.
If you can’t be happy for other people’s achievements and simple joys in life, at least be happy for yourself.