Exploring my sinful side – the green eyed monster…

I have recently become a member of Judith’s Room, a new forum for women writers, through which I have been able to share my writing, read what other people have to say, and generally pass the time when I should be working. The group is launching a series of new themed writing weeks and is kicking off with the seven deadly sins – a different sin for each week. What a fantastic idea! I love it. So this week I am writing about envy…

Envy is one of my favourite sins – not the practise of it of course, lust and gluttony are a lot more fun – but the fact that it always makes me think of coveting my neighbour’s ass, and that makes me chuckle. What can I say; I have a childlike sense of humour.

My dictionary describes envy as ‘a feeling of grudging or somewhat admiring discontent aroused by the possessions, achievements or qualities of another, the desire to have for oneself something possessed by another.’ Envy therefore is a particularly destructive emotion, not only for the individual, but also for the neighbour whose ass is being coveted. Envy isn’t just about wanting what someone else has, it’s about the twisted pleasure you get from seeing someone else lose it.

The problem with envy is that once you let it suck you in, it will never be satisfied. A bit like a tapeworm, but without the bloating. Become a victim of envy and the grass will always be greener. It may serve to drive your ambition, help you strive to attain a higher status, gather more Stuff, but ultimately it will leave you unfulfilled, never quite able to get the Right Kind Of Stuff, to reach the status you feel sure will make you happy.

That’s not to say envy is all bad – it can play an important part in helping you to develop aspirations and motivate you to achieving goals, but the important thing is to be sure your goals are the right ones and that you are striving for the right reasons.

When I find myself envying another person’s job, husband, income (or indeed ass), and it happens often, particularly when I am feeling a bit rubbish about myself, I try to follow through the process in my head. I might start off by reading a well known journalist’s column in a newspaper and thinking ‘that’s not fair, I could write that, why don’t they realise I am FUNNIER and give me her job instead?’ Quite a normal thought pattern I’m sure. So then I try to think about what that would actually mean. It would mean I had a strict deadline every week, which would probably bring on some kind of panic attack, I would forget to feed my children, they would run away from home…. Worst case scenario perhaps, but it temporarily prevents me from descending into a pit of silent jealous rage at least.

What would the world be like without envy I wonder? When you begin to unravel the forces that drive us in our day to day lives, the seven so called deadly sins are really what make us human. How much of what we do is driven by our desire to have what other people have, to look how other people look? Without envy, would the diet industry collapse? Would everyone stop having affairs? And more importantly, would I ever be motivated enough to get any work done at all?…

Photo credit: Rev Guzman



  1. 3 February, 2010 / 1:01 pm

    This is a wonderful piece that I really enjoyed reading over my morning coffee. It’s well-written, thought-provoking and filled with humour. There’s no need for you to be envious of anyone else writing a column because you ARE just as talented and just as funny. Keep up the great work and the rewards WILL come!

    • 4 February, 2010 / 10:07 am

      Thank you! What a lovely comment – I’m glad you enjoyed it :-)

  2. 4 February, 2010 / 9:54 am

    Never thought of it that way before. No diet industry? No work. Chaos w/o envy? Thought provoking!

    • 4 February, 2010 / 10:09 am

      It’s interesting isn’t it? As I was writing it began to dawn on me just how much of society of driven by these deadly sins. We just wouldn’t be living the way we live without them. I’m looking forward to writing about the other six now!

  3. 4 February, 2010 / 1:21 pm

    Wonderful post Jo, brilliantly written. I think I am very boring or possibly a weirdo because I am sitting here trying to work out what I am envious of and I can’t bloody think of anything. I’d love to be a lot thinner but I don’t envy beautiful slim women, I sort of think ‘ooh they’re lovely’ and I would love to be richer but I don’t envy those who have a fortune, I’m wondering if this makes me really sad. Oh well gives something else to ponder. I think (know) I am a bit wet really. xx

  4. 4 February, 2010 / 2:08 pm

    Enjoyed reading this. Envy. Hhmm. I have always felt that it’s a bit of an ugly word and like Linda, I talk myself out of actually being envious of anything or anyone by reasoning that there is bound to be something that about ‘it’ that’s making them miserable. That either makes me really positive or just plain mean.

    • 4 February, 2010 / 4:55 pm

      Scribblingmum – you and Linda are both so sensible. Envy is a trait I really don’t like in myself and one I could do without. Linda I’m sure you’re not at all wet! You seem to be incredibly passionate and driven about everything you do, so comforting to know that that doesn’t have to be driven by envy!

  5. 4 February, 2010 / 3:28 pm

    Yeah I quite envy Nigella Lawson, because she makes it look so easy. “Here I am looking voluptous in the kitchen with my millionaire husband making custard and selling millions of cookery books”….but there’s probably a lot of tedious measuring of ingredients and research behind the cosy facade!

  6. 4 February, 2010 / 4:57 pm

    Oh yes, definitely. I’m sure the fabulous dinner parties she throws on the TV are really terribly DULL and the food is probably awful. Honest. *envious*

  7. 5 February, 2010 / 5:03 pm

    Ah, envy… Sadly, I know what I’m envious of. It’s people who don’t have to work. I hate work. I only work because I need luxuries like bread and shoes and yes, if I won the lottery (not likely, since I don’t do it) I would never work again. I would have no trouble filling up my time with gardening, jewellery-making, sewing, writing, making wearable art, travelling… Work is truly the toad that squats on my life and I am oh-so-envious of anyone who need not do it. :(

  8. 11 February, 2010 / 9:10 am

    I envied a lot of people at various times in my life, but after nealry losing my Mum I now count my blessings EVERY day.

    Good read… now off to google covetness. ;-)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.