Five Reasons You Can't Afford the High Cost of Envy - Betty Streff
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Five Reasons You Can’t Afford the High Cost of Envy

envy those feathers

Five Reasons You Can’t Afford the High Cost of Envy

“Envy is a symptom of lack of appreciation of our own uniqueness and self worth. Each of us has something to give that no one else has.”~Elizabeth O’Connor


Years ago there was a super creepy movie called Seven. It was about a serial killer who used the seven deadly sins as a sort of motif for a string of murders. The film had a star-studded cast, did great at the box office and got an Oscar nomination. The memory of it still gives me the willies. But murder or not, they’re called the seven deadly sins for good reason. They kill your joy and well-being.


Recently, my women’s group Faith on Fire participated in a study on the subject presented by Bishop Robert Barron. It was fascinating and deep. We loved learning why the sins of pride, wrath, gluttony, envy, sloth, greed and lust are so pernicious. It’s pretty safe to say most of us in that particular group are not especially given to sloth or lust or wrath. But envy? For many of us, envy is one tough weed of the soul and the effects of it are insidious and expensive!


ordinary drab feathers

What is envy anyway?


“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”~Harold Coffin


Envy is discontent with what we have and more than that, it’s a lack of gratitude. It’s wanting what someone else has because you think it’s better than what you have. Often, it takes the form of wanting things you judge to be nicer than what you have. Or, maybe you think  someone else is more attractive than you are. You envy that beautiful smile or flat belly and wish it belonged to you. Happy-looking relationships can send us into a fit of envy, too. We want what they appear to have! Sadly, envy can get dark when we secretly wish something would take good things away from another person and somehow level the playing field.


Shame and a loss of self-esteem is another side effect of envy. It’s easy to start feeling unworthy or undeserving when that ugly emotion grabs hold of us. In that state of mind we completely lose sight of everything we DO have and can go into a complete tailspin thinking we’ll NEVER have what we want! What a self-defeating, damaging emotion! I’ll be honest and admit envy has been an issue for me, especially when I was younger.  Those old emotions still bubble up and fester from time to time but I’m learning to see it through new eyes.


Five Reasons Why Envy is Way too Costly


Envy takes our eyes off our blessings. There is a blindness that happens when we look at what we want and make it more important than gratitude for everything we already have.


Become oblivious to our progress. When we are solely focused on what others have achieved, we’re no longer able to see how far we ourselves have come in reaching our goals. Every winning jockey knows how to keep his horse’s eyes fixed on the finish line and not on the others in the heat.


Lose sight of our own strength. Each of us was born with unique and valuable qualities that make us perfect for the role we were created to fill. No one is better suited for our divine purpose than we are, just the way we were made.


The surface is all we see in others and it doesn’t tell the whole story. Every person experiences pain and suffers in ways we can’t imagine when all we can see is the outside package. Before you wish you could trade places with someone, consider what you can’t see in their life.


Envy makes us  see only results and not everything it took to get there. The years of practice, hours in the gym, months in counseling, decades of sacrifice and hardship. Are you willing to do what it takes to get what you see?


Envy is an easy trap to fall in. Don’t go there. Luckily, we have the ability to think our way out of damaging emotions if we take a little time to count the cost.  It’s always possible to take a step back, pause and refocus. See life with new eyes and you’ll live happier, guaranteed. See you next week!


don't envy victory



  • Oh Betty, LOVED your column today.

    One of your BEST…

    May 17, 2018 at 5:58 am
  • This is so great and I would like to share a little something our 12 year old told us when we were discussing Envy during a family bible study. He said, “We should be happy for the talents and gifts of others. Their talent doesn’t make ours less. If someone plays basketball better than me, it doesn’t effect how well I play , I play how I play regardless.” We can especially think this way as adults. Someone else being thinner or smarter or driving a nicer vehicle doesn’t change how thin, or smart I am or the vehicle I drive. We turn a constant into a variable somehow 😏. Grated for you and your wisdom!

    May 18, 2018 at 4:11 am
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