WEDNESDAY WEALTH RECAP
- With all the negativity in the media, it’s hard to remember what makes the U.S. the land of opportunity. But Alexander Green reminds us…
- Who is the most influential businessman of all time: Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett? Nicholas Vardy gives his verdict.
- The government is just as great a threat to your health as it is to your wealth. Joel Salatin provides a critical example.
Editor’s Note: It’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us… but in today’s article, Dr. Joel F. Wade shares a particular emotion that will destroy both your self-image and your portfolio.
But now it’s easy to leave emotions out of investing with the help of Alexander’s Green’s #1 Stock in America.
When you utilize his proven three-step system, there’s no guesswork involved…
– Madeline St.Clair, Assistant Managing Editor
Envy is an ugly emotion – one that can absolutely poison our relationship with money.
Storytellers have written of its awful effects. Many religions even forbid or warn against it, as you can find in the 10th Commandment of the Old Testament.
But even though we all know that it’s a negative emotion, envy still persists as a powerfully destructive force.
So where does it come from?
It isn’t about having very little; we aren’t particularly unhappy when we have very little. But we do become very unhappy, depressed and bitter when we dwell on having less than our neighbor.
This can certainly occur when we look at our investments in relation to others. It can skew our thinking and cause us to make decisions that undermine our own success.
Yet there is an antidote to envy: empathy, admiration and the effective redirection of our initial impulses.
It can also help to more fully understand this destructive and bitter emotion.
The Cost of Envy
Envy dehumanizes the person envied.
When we envy another person, we are not seeing that person for who they are. We are seeing them for what they have.
It breeds malevolence; when we envy, we are not happy for the success of our neighbor but resentful of it.
Envy diminishes our capacity for empathy, and this lack of empathy makes it possible for people to do horrible things to one another.
It also reinforces a self-image of helplessness and impotence.
Envy implies disbelief in ourselves; it presupposes that we don’t believe we can create the wealth, the relationships and the values that we see in others…
And this helplessness can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, limiting our ability to work toward what we would like to create in our lives.
But as we can with any negative emotion, by catching ourselves and understanding what we’re feeling, we can redirect our actions in a way that works better for us.
Envy is, initially, an impulse – a reaction to perceptions. It’s not unusual to see something that someone else has and desire it – as an impulse. We’ve probably all felt at least a twinge of this impulse of envy at some point in our lives.
But that’s not where the danger lies. The important thing is what we do with that initial impulse.
Do we hang on to it, indulge it and follow it?
Or do we take that impulse and transform it into useful action?
When it comes to envy over money, we can think of how we might earn the money to buy what we’d like. Or we can use envy to recognize something we may value – something we may admire in another person – and seek to develop those qualities in ourselves.
When I was playing water polo in college, there were moments when I was stricken with a wave of envy as I was fighting for my position on the team.
There could be only one starting goalkeeper, and once in a while I would catch myself feeling resentment toward the fellow I was vying with for that spot (who was a phenomenal player and also a very good friend).
That friendship (along with the fact that I knew better) was a godsend because it kept a human connection. It always brought me back very quickly from indulging in envy and refocused me on the task at hand: to play my very best, regardless of what anybody else was doing.
We all want things.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting things; it’s part of our nature. And to the degree that this desire spurs us on to be creative and productive, it can be a great force for good.
But when we see other people with the things that we want, whether those be tangible items like a flourishing investment portfolio… or less tangible accomplishments like a career or a happy life, then another element can invite itself into our experience: a focus on the thing desired.
We also can become oblivious to what it took for the holder of that thing or accomplishment to achieve what they have, which has everything to do with empathy.
One day – after a particularly grueling water polo practice – as we were all getting out of the pool and heading for the locker room, I happened to look back at the pool.
There was one teammate still in the pool – my friend and competitor, the other goalkeeper.
While we were all beginning to relax, he was swimming an extra thousand yards of butterfly (that’s 20 laps of the most difficult stroke there is).
Seeing him doing that changed everything for me. Whatever envy there had been was immediately replaced with something much more useful and powerful: admiration.
With his example, I knew what I had to do to bring my very best.
He went on to play in three Olympics and win two silver medals – probably the best goalkeeper to ever play the game. I didn’t make the Olympics, but I’m very proud of what I did achieve, including several national and world championships – all greatly inspired by that deep admiration.
I never could have accomplished a fraction of what I had through indulging in envy.
The Questions You Need to Ask Yourself
Is there something that you want in your life? What do you need to do to earn it?
Channel your desire into active, benevolent behavior that has integrity in line with your conscious values, principles and priorities.
If you find yourself coveting what someone else has, remind yourself that envy is a passive, helpless stance. Think about what they must have done to get where they are, and give yourself the gift of admiration.
See if you can find a way to earn the source of your envy.
If you find yourself enjoying somebody else’s loss, remind yourself that nothing good can come from following that impulse. Open yourself to doing whatever your best is while appreciating the best that others bring.
We have lots of feelings and impulses, and part of the challenge of life is mastering them while directing their expression toward what we consciously value.
We can’t generally choose our impulses, but we can choose whether and how we express them – which does affect the nature of our impulses over time.
Just because we feel angry doesn’t mean that we have to strike somebody; just because we’re afraid doesn’t mean that we have to cower; just because we’re hurt doesn’t mean that we have to withdraw.
And just because we like what someone else has doesn’t mean that we have to indulge in envy.