We all experience envy. And although the word most notably is pejorative, envy can also be a positive emotion if used in a “benign” way. Envy hurts.
According to an article in Psychology Today, envy is when we lack a desired attribute enjoyed by another, on the other hand, jealousy is when something we have is threatened by a third person
We also know that there are benign envy and malicious envy. Benign envy can motivate us to do better, to achieve what we admire and desire in others. Malicious envy, that’s that green-eyed monster. That’s the one we step back from. We become aware of those harmful feelings we are possessing. For example, that’s what we believe when that other person (third party) does not deserve the success that they have achieved.
Yoga and Envy
How does this relate to yoga? Take a look at what Patanjali simply reminds us in Yoga Sutra I.33. “The mind will be undisturbed if you can cultivate the attitudes of friendliness towards the happy, compassion towards those in pain, a delight for those with good fortune, and impartiality towards negative people.
A delight for those with good fortune. Ok, this is said easily, how can we start putting aside those harmful feelings? From my observations and trials, taking a deep breath and bringing to mind instantly and putting into action Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote “Comparison is the thief of joy”. That’s my first step, when I do that, I immediately begin to become aware. Thoughts of yes, maybe they have quite a bit more of what I want but I also learned in my years that the grass is not always greener. Additionally, I don’t know the whole story. Let benign envy create that inner motivation to obtain what you desire. Finally, let yourself practice stepping back, taking a breath, and repeating comparison is the thief of joy. It’s not easy and just like yoga, it’s a practice.
This blog was created by Jana Macintosh who has been practicing yoga for many years. Jane has her 500-hour YTT certification. She has taught yoga teacher training classes for Leading Yoga and has taught numerous NYC city workers yoga and meditation. She is currently a yoga and meditation instructor at LeadingYoga.com teaching online yoga classes and yoga teacher training certification coursework.
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