Let’s get real about envy. We all feel it every day, especially in the age of social media and the internet where it’s easier than ever to compare ourselves to others. But here’s the thing: envy doesn’t have to be a negative force in our lives.
According to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, envy can be both productive and destructive, depending on how we channel it.
We can let it hold us back, get us depressed and fill us full of anxiety.
Or we can allow it to give us a roadmap to success and motivate us to work harder.
It all depends on whether you’re focusing on the end result or the journey.
But let’s be honest, in today’s world, many of us are envious of the success and status of others, without being willing to put in the work to achieve that success for ourselves.
We scroll through social media, see the highlight reel of other people’s lives, and feel like we’re not measuring up. We envy the influencer with millions of followers or the entrepreneur with a successful business, without realizing the hard work and sacrifice it took to get there.
That’s where Nietzsche would likely call us out. He believed that envy could be productive, but only if it was channeled into action.
In other words, if we’re envious of someone’s success, we should use that envy as motivation to work harder, to strive for excellence and to pursue our own goals.
If we simply envy others without taking action, then we’re wasting our emotions and holding ourselves back.
This is why he attacked Christianity so much. He argued that Christianity was a religion built on resentment, and that it was based on the envy of those with power and wealth. He wrote that Christianity’s “creeds against envy” were a way of masking their own envy of those who had achieved success and status. In other words, they were envious because they were unwilling to put in the work.
Now, as a Christian I don’t understand why he was so focused on us, but his point is understood if we apply it to humans as whole, as we witness it now with the proliferation of social media.
Instead of simply envying the success of others, let’s focus on our own journey and use that envy as motivation to work harder and pursue our own goals. Let’s use social media and the internet as tools for finding inspiration and connecting with others who share our passions.
It’s not about what other people are doing.
It’s not about us vs them.
It’s about us vs us.
It’s about getting better every day.
It’s about putting in the work.
And perhaps using someone else’s journey as a lesson on how we can be better than yesterday’s version of us.
Copyright © 2023. Wesley Donehue. All rights reserved.