The Envious Heart

Do you have an envious heart? Envy is defined as wanting something that belongs to another person.Envy is often confused with jealousy, but the two are not the same. Whereas jealousy is the fear that someone will take someone or something you already have, envy is the fear of your not possessing someone or something that you want but that currently belongs to another person.

Traditionally considered one of the seven deadly sins, envy was dubbed “the green-ey’d monster” by Shakespeare (Othello Act 3, scene 3, 165–171). Aristotle described envy as “pain at the good fortune of others” (Aristotle, Rhetoric, Bk II, Chapter 10), and Immanuel Kant defined envy’s aim as the desire “to destroy the good fortune of another person” (The Metaphysics of Morals 6:459). An envious heart hates to see its own well-being overshadowed by the well-being of another. 

Envy has at its root a misunderstanding of the nature of God and of the blessings He desires to shower upon His children. If you suffer from envy, what can you do to get rid of it?  Here are some proven tips:

1) Repent. Envy is a sin. It is a violation of the Tenth Commandment as set forth by God in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Exodus. If you are guilty of envy, ask God to forgive you, and He will.

2) Avoid comparison with others. You are a unique masterpiece created by God for a unique purpose. There has never been anyone like you, there is currently no one like you, nor will there ever be anyone like you. So, logically, if you are one-of-a-kind, there is no room for comparison. Scripture tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:12 that those who compare themselves with others are unwise.

3) Develop an abundance mentality. Recognize that God has more than enough to meet your needs as well as everyone else’s. When you understand the laws of the Kingdom of God, you will see that there is no shortage for anyone who trusts Him.

4) Count your blessings. Harold Coffin said that “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”  When you start counting your own blessings, your perspective on your life will change from a false one to a true one.  There is a principle in psychology that says what you focus on will grow. Focus on the good things in your life. When you do, your blessings will consume more of your thinking than what you may lack.

5) Practice gratitude.  A thankful heart is a happy heart. Look for the many things for which you can be grateful. They are all around you.


Copyright 2015 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA.  All Rights Reserved.