I read an article today that I found on LifeHacker yesterday called “Why You Need Margin In Your Life (And How To Get It). There were several great takeaways, but the one that resonated the most with me was “unfollow (on social media) the people you envy.”
This is powerful. When I saw the word “envy,” I began to think of all of the ways that envy can ruin our lives. Envy is the enemy of productive labor. When we look at the accomplishments of people whom we envy, we say, “I’ll never be able to do _____ as well as he does, so why try.” Envy is a big reason why books don’t get written, skills don’t get acquired, risks aren’t taken, new businesses aren’t started, and new habits aren’t formed.
Envy creates discontent. God has given each of us unique abilities, opportunities, and resources. It’s easy to forget that and look around and see others that appear to have superior abilities, opportunities, and resources, and to covet what they have, whether it be in the realm of talent, wealth, connections, or ambition. When we do this, we put ourselves in a place where we cannot be content. Our negative emotions are focused on what we don’t have and what we may never have.
Envy paralyzes. In any creative endeavor, there is bound to be someone who has done what we are attempting to do better than we have done it. The envy that this creates can keep us from getting started. We may forget that our task is not to be the best, but to bring what we have been given to the particular audience or market that is ours. When we become envious, we don’t even start to plant the seed that may yield fruit.
Along with this, envy is unproductive. There are many models, stories, people, and examples that may encourage us and mentor us to produce. However, there is a line that we can cross from being a learner to being a coveter and worshipper and placing our eyes upon a person rather than God. This will surely lead us down the path of cynicism and idolatry, and stop us from “doing the next thing”.
What experiences have you had with this? How have you been able to overcome envy in order to be more productive?