Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Opposite of Envy

I was listening to a podcast interview with Dr. Henry Cloud, author of The Law of Happiness. I'm reading this book now. I'll report back later.

Anyway, in the interview Dr. Cloud spoke about how gratitude is the opposite of envy. Sounds weird, but I've never thought of it that way. But it makes sense. With envy, we're upset about what we don't have. With gratitude, we're thankful for what we do have.

A fun illustration of this is a tweet that was sent out by my son, who graduated from high school last night. He was bidding a fond farewell to his school. "No more FIFA tournaments, no more cafeteria food, no more expired ASB snacks, no more dirt-covered trailers. I'm going to miss everything."

You see, his high school is a small cluster of trailers surrounded by dirt countryside. A new high school is under construction, but that didn't matter to my son. In a quote he gave at a scholarship luncheon, "The guts are good, even if it isn't pretty on the outside." He isn't envious of kids who go to fancy schools. He excelled and had a blast in dusty trailers, knowing he was blessed with education and a small town atmosphere. In my opinion, that's a heart of gratitude.

The topic of envy reminded me how we writers can be afflicted by the Green Eyed Monster just as much as, or maybe more than, the next guy. Book deals, large advances, bestseller status, signing with a top agency--these highlights sometimes seem to only happen to other writers.

Today I encourage all of us to practice the opposite of envy. Let's express gratitude for what we currently have in our writing lives:

The ability to read
The ability to spell
The ability to write
The ability to tell stories
The ability to write on a computer
The ability to cut and paste
The ability to send queries via email
The ability to download ebooks instantly
The ability to publish instantly

As my son closes the chapter on high school and begins the next chapter at a university, I'm thankful for his heart of gratitude. And when the Green Eyed Monster sneaks up on us, we can list the good things in our writing lives. The cure for envy is gratitude.

Anything else you'd like to add to the above list? Do you ever get bitten by the Green Eyed Monster? How do you handle it? And if you haven't yet seen it, check out my IWSG post about our Wall of Gratitude.


  1. Your son has a great attitude. You did well, Mom.
    I'm blessed with everything in my life. As an author, I'm really blessed, as I only thought I had one book in me. God blew my expectations and I am very grateful.

  2. What a great attitude your son has! Whenever I feel too envious of others I always remind myself that I'm far more fortunate than the majority of the people on this planet, ie, I have my own house, a job, food, some toys, etc. That usually shuts me up :)

  3. To walk through the park with my pups.

  4. What a great post. Although I have gone through much heartache this last year, I'm grateful for all I have and how well my daughter is doing through this all.

    Let me know if you like the book. I'm looking for good books like that to read as I go through my reinventing my life process.

  5. Love it! It is so easy to get wrapped up in what we don't have. The last 3 months have been hard, focused solely on family and watching the world pass by, but I have been beyond grateful for a healthy baby, a strong family, and a wonderful home. Writing/social media can wait, eh?

  6. What a wonderful reminder and so very true. The best way to make envy and discontent magically go away is to express gratitude for one's many blessings.

  7. We find it easier to complain rather than to praise and to be jealous rather than to be grateful. I wish it wasn't like that, but your post has made me remember just how grateful I am for so many things. Your son sounds like a lovely person (he must have inherited it from you)

  8. A writer friend and I were talking recently how we were grateful for the success we've had even if neither of us are getting rich. Congrats to your son on graduation.
    Susan Says

  9. I've never thought of gratitude as the opposite of envy either, but you're definitely right. I feel like I complain more than I'd admit, but it's so much easier to be thankful. I read a quote somewhere that once said every time the alarm clock goes off (even though it's super annoying and you just want more sleep), be thankful you woke up for another day.

  10. Thanks for the reminder that it's much more energizing to share in the joy of others than poke the green eyed beastie.