Friday, April 20, 2012

A Word on Envy

Okay, so I don't normally wax religious here on the blog--or anywhere for that matter. But I've been doing some light reading on a few things, and I'm a writer under the pressurized umbrella of publishing, and it seems that there's always something to be envious about, whether in life or in the world of books.

I've blogged about it before. Twice, I think. Basically those posts made me feel better about my jealousy, because you all said you felt it too. Ha!

But this quote has helped me immensely in the past couple of weeks, and whether you're religious or not, maybe it'll help you. It was said by one of my favorite church leaders, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, at our semi-annual conference on March 31.


Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those. 


Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment! To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him “all that he hath,” as the scripture says (Luke 12:44). So lesson number one from the Lord’s vineyard: coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live. 

You can read the whole talk here.


Today, I'm not looking for the confirmation that you feel envy too. Just wondering who's in for more kindness, more gratitude, a more happy way to live? 

Yeah, my hand is up. 

46 comments:

Christine Danek said...

I want to live happy. *hand up* We all go through this. I know I have, but it does get you down and can hold you captive. You have to get past it and live for you and not through others.
Have a great weekend!

Bethany Myers said...

Once again Elana, you've hit the nail on the head.

My pet name for Publishers Marketplace is, "Awesome stuff that happens to people who aren't me."

The thing about envy is that we're usually comparing our lowest moments with someone else's latest accomplishment.

It's normal to feel this way, but like you say in this post, be kind and move on.

Cheers!

PS I love the colors on your blog.

Shrinky said...

I've recently discovered a new author to me, whose novels I'm rapidly devouring.

But.

I envy him his talent SOOOO much, and feel deflated knowing however hard I may try, I shall never produce works even a shadow as good of anything he writes. That's not to say I applaude his success, it is richly deserved..

it's just

a little depressing.

Shrinky said...

Eeek, Freudian slip! That meant to read, "That's not to say I DON'T applaude his success." (Blush)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I tend to take that envy and use it for something more productive. Like challenge myself to do something better. To improve on myself. And I don't let someone else's success give me self doubts about my own chosen path. :)

Lola Sharp said...

First, an aside, and not the point...but: I kinda love pickle juice. I think it's yummy. :)

Okay, this is a lovely post, and I know so many who struggle with this. I suppose I'm 'lucky' in that I honestly never feel upset when good things happen to others. I sincerely feel happy for them and that the good things are good news for everyone.
I mean, in publishing, when you hear of someone getting a 6 or 7 figure multi-book deal, even if the writing is crap, well, it makes me happy in that it means the publishing industry (and economy) must be getting back on track.

More kindness and gratitude FTW! :)

<3

SA Larsenッ said...

Right on, E. Finding the goodness in others successes can and will bring us along a path to receive the same. Just sayin'...

(That's not always easy, though, but it does make us stronger peeps!)

Emily Gray Clawson said...

LOVE IT! This is a lesson I've had to learn over and over again. I'll think that I "get" it and then, WHAM, the same feelings will hit me again. This talk was a big boost to me and I needed the reminder again today. Thanks!

Tamara said...

Thanks for the post. BTW, that quote is on my refrigerator. I don't think I'm overly envious, but whenever I am it's such a downer. I do think being happy for someone else's success is a skill I need to practice.

ilima said...

Yes. I remember this quote. It made me laugh at the time (pickle juice!) but it's so true.

Matthew MacNish said...

Envy, much like hate, is dead weight.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

*sigh* THANK YOU for that, Elana. Truly. :)

Patti said...

I remember that talk. I reiterate what so many have already said, that being envious is a waste of time. Although at times it's easier said than done.

Julie Daines said...

Great thought. This is something I've thought a lot about lately too.

Sure there is always a twinge of envy when someone else gets what you've been striving for. But then you let it go, be happy for them, and in the end live a much more peaceful life. I believe what goes around comes around. And how we treat others, especially in light of their successes, will most definitely come back to us. :)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

When I was querying and researching agents, a remember one woman mentioned there being room for all of us -- that one book's sale didn't mean there was suddenly less room for someone else's. It was a very generous, very freeing thing to hear.

She requested a full and some re-writes, but I eventually signed elsewhere. Over two years after contacting her, she contacted me, after reading a review, to congratulate me on my book.

That woman, Anna Olswanger, is a class act.

Angela Brown said...

Words of wisdom are often so beautiful. Of course I'm more than game for celebrating the blessings bestowed upon others. Having an attitude of gratitude. Of cheering when others excel. That's one of the things I LOVE doing at my blog.

I acknowledge the envy the moment it hits so I can check it, because yes, I'm going to feel it. Hello humanity. Hello sin. But I don't have to stay in it. There is the beauty of it. So I check it, release it and move on. As Matt mentioned, it is dead weight. And let me just be frank here, I've got enough weight to bear. I don't need the burden of dead weight from things like envy or jealousy. :-)

Sarah Allen said...

Totally my favorite talk from this year. Holland always blows me away, and this one was no exception. I think that's become my new favorite parable.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A race against sin. We often forget sin is the real enemy!

Natalie Aguirre said...

So true that this is the better way to live. My hand is up and waving. Thanks for the inspiration.

And can I share my news? Literary Rambles made the Writer's Digest Best 101 List under "Everything Agent." Casey & I are so excited because we had no clue until Angela Ackerman told us.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Hey, congrats, Natalie, on the Writer's Digest lit!

And yes, Elder Holland is brilliant. His talks are always SO powerful and right on!

I used to think the pie was only so big, too, like Caroline Rose just mentioned and yet it's really not true. When your book is ready to be published there *is* room. And I just heard a stat the other day that the number of books being pubbed in MG/YA has doubled in the last ten years so obviously the pie got a whole lot bigger recently!

Can't wait to see you at Storymakers, Elana! xoxo

Peggy Eddleman said...

Oh, I love that! So very well said!

Count me in. :)

Taffy said...

"Envy is a mistake that keeps on giving..." Love it.
I'm so happy for my friends when they get that publishing contract! I love their success stories.
On the other side, I have friends/family I don't tell when we have good things happen to us because they begrudgingly celebrate with us have a few barbed remarks.
Be happy for each other! Build each other up! It will come back to you someday!

Margo Rowder said...

My hand is up! I feel lucky that I've never been one to compare myself to others. This has its faults, too (I'm sometimes *too* independent), but it helps keep me grounded. Both in up times and down.

Thanks for a great and timely post, Elana. :)

Liza said...

Perfect, perfect, perfect post! Such a wonderful lesson in there! Be happy for others. Yes. I'm in!

Kelly Polark said...

Thanks for sharing that, Elana!
I'm all for kindess and happiness!!

Alice said...

Excellent quote! I just listened to it the other day while exercising and remember it stood out to me.

Jemi Fraser said...

What a great speech! My friend Jean Oram chatted about a related topic today! (http://jeanoram.com/blog/2012/04/20/writers-givers-gain/)

It's really all about the way we want to be :)

Nichole Giles said...

*raises both hands* Memememe!

I admit that sometimes it's hard to be happy for other people when they're finding success and I'm not, but only if I let it be. Most times, I don't.

When I'm cheering with my friends, or even strangers, I am looking to them, gathering courage and hope, because their moments of happiness and success mean that someday I will have those things too.

And I think hope is a much better feeling than envy.

Lori Ann Freeland said...

My hand is up too!

June G said...

When I feel a twinge of envy trying to sneak up on me, I remember the commandment that tells us not covet anything of your neighbors--I'm sure that includes their book deal or movie option! It becomes a no-brainer--you can't argue with God. Don't covet what's not yours and focus on establishing what is.

Easier said than done sometimes, but we have to get in the habit of putting this into practice. It's a life-long lesson.

Once again, thanks Elana for touching on a much needed subject :-)

Jenny S. Morris said...

Hand is up. Thanks for this. ;0)

Sierra Gardner said...

I LOVED this talk. Especially the part about envy forcing us to be unhappy anytime anyone else has good fortune. I think this will need to be my go-to talk when I start getting jealous.

Beth Overmyer said...

Very wise words. I'm all for more kindness! "Rejoice with those who rejoice..." that way, every day's a party! Hey, I need an excuse to break out the brownie mix, and if it can't be for my good news, it might as well be for some else's.

Thanks for helping me gain some perspective.

Beth

Leslie Rose said...

I try to celebrate the success of others and turn those little envy niggles into glimpses of the possible.

Martha Ramirez said...

VERY nice, Elana! That's right. Very well-said. Amen!

Martha Ramirez said...

Natalie! SUPER congrats! Writer's Digest picked my blog a few weeks ago for writing site of the week and I was so excited. I could NOT imagine BEST 101!!! WOW!!

So AWESOME!

I'm surprised they hadn't already picked BOOKSHELF MUSE? I can't live without your site. BIG congrats!!!

Anita Saxena said...

Thank you for sharing this. I needed the reminder, especially while I am querying. Have a great weekend!

Heather said...

I'll raise my hand and my coffee cup to that. The world could certainly use more kindness and gratitude, especially the one I live in (I have GOT to get a new day job *sigh*).

Christine Fonseca said...

LOVE!

Nicole Zoltack said...

Lovely post! My hand's up too.

Kathryn Purdie said...

*raises hand*

I listened to this talk...twice. Rewound it on my DVR right after it first aired. Good stuff. When I spread the love, life is a happier place. Thanks for the reminder.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm always in for more kindness, gratitude, and a happier way to live. :)

Personally, it's hard for me to understand being jealous of another writers' success. It's not like there's a success pie with only so many slices. Everyone can have a slice. And there are thousands of different pies! (Mmmm...pie.) The only time I really feel "envy" in this situation isn't really envy at all. It's more of a disappointment with myself for not being farther along than I'd like. But I tell myself that my journey is different and my slice of pie is based on a different menu.

And then I raise my glass to someone else's slice and we party! :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's one of the Commandments. Shame they took them out of schools for fear someone would actually follow them, isn't it?

Angela Cothran said...

I'm completely behind this!

I try to look at it from this perspective--If someone nabs an agent it means unknown authors can still get representation. If someone's book hits the big time it means people are still reading.

We are all in this together. Just say NO to envy!

Martha Ramirez said...

Natlie--I totally misunderstood--Ditto goes to you and Casey's blog! And Elana's!! You guys all rock!!

Myrna Foster said...

Yes, please! I loved this talk.

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