Have you ever heard of the green-eyed monster? Well her twin, Envy, is more of a little devil sitting on your shoulder than a monster, but it’s the one that creeps into your heart and distorts your vision. She’s a nasty little booger that kills your joy and steals your contentment. She’s good at helping you dream up a grand life just moments after seeing your friends with new stuff. Unfortunately, I knew her well but pretended she didn’t exist.
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After walking into a friend’s house-warming party several years ago I remember being overcome with this weird feeling. I had owned my home for about five years at the time. Her home was bigger than mine, in a better neighborhood and almost fully decorated. Say what? THIS was not fair.
I went home that day, plopped on the bed and sobbed a river of crocodile tears in frustration and anger. Seriously, I had major issues. It was my first noticeable encounter with envy. Apparently, Ms. Thang had been there for a while and I didn’t notice her.
I didn’t notice her because she lived with me for so long. As a youngster, you think she’s a good friend because all she says are harmless things like, “Ooh, that’s pretty, you should have that too.” And thus, you get accustomed to her being around; you ignore that tightness in your chest when you see something you want but can’t have. It’s not until the two of you are well acquainted that she becomes much more aggressive. At that point, she takes on a nasty tone that sounds more like “I HAVE to have that!”
I certainly knew I had a problem when I rolled out of bed after my fit. “Why am I crying about other people’s stuff,” I said to myself. “This is stupid. Get over it.” So I let it go and moved on.
Or so I thought.
When I began my decorating journey, envy reared her head once more. I drooled over magazines and Pinterest posts and felt totally overwhelmed by the beauty of other people’s homes and the extent of their talent to create them. I wanted my home to look like these pictures and I wanted it right away. We worked hard, earned a decent living and thus I deserved a home like theirs. Right?
Who says we deserve anything? Food, shelter, and clothing are about all I deserve. Everything else is a luxury. I certainly am not entitled to beautiful vases, lamps, and drapes. Ask the struggling single mom if I deserve the down comforter from the latest catalog. Even at a discount, why are those candle holders a must? Somehow my mindset was skewed. When I saw my envy, I knew I had to overcome it; not just mentally but completely this time.
Here’s the plan that helped me get rid of Envy
Pray about Envy
If we’re going to be friends you have to understand that I pray. A Lot. About everything. So yes, I prayed fervently that God would help me get rid of envy and my desire to have other people’s stuff. But after I prayed, there are some other practical ways I got rid of envy.
Gratitude destroys covetousness. Yeah, you may say you’re thankful, but if you are constantly eyeing new toys and worse, other people’s toys, you may not be as thankful as you think. My solution: EXERCISE gratitude. Don’t just say you have an attitude of thanksgiving, practice it.
I suggest you start a gratitude journal. Write down a few reasons you are grateful every day. Do this for 30 days and you’ll be surprised how many blessings in your life you can count. Filling your heart with gratitude will leave less room for envy. Focusing on what I had versus what I didn’t, gave me a better perspective on decorating my home. I began to enjoy my home and stopped comparing it to pictures.
Stop Searching for New Toys
When you’re grateful for what you have, you can focus on what you NEED versus what you WANT. Envy creeps in when you go hunting for the next big thing. I have a plan for my home now so when it’s time to shop, I know exactly what to look for. That means don’t peruse Pinterest and other sites just because. Have a purpose. Use your web browsing time as a tool, rather than a way to feed your appetite for more widgets. Likewise, avoid window shopping. If you’re not in the market for particular items, stay home and stop browsing. Stores are full of pretty stuff. That’s why they are in business. Close your eyes when you’re full; you’ll have less tendency to overindulge.
Jealousy is envy’s twin sister. Jealousy not only wants what you have, but she’s mad that you have it. Nip jealousy in the bud by learning to give genuine compliments to friends (in-person or online). Compliments are a great way to share your appreciation for beautiful things without needing to own them. You don’t lose anything when you give a compliment; perhaps you’ll gain an ally by dishing them out.
I’m not telling you to be phony; I’m suggesting you give credit where it’s due and be vocal about it. If you’re not accustomed to giving compliments, you may feel awkward, but with practice, you’ll become a natural.
You’ll enjoy your life and home more when it’s empty of envy. It takes up a lot of space where joy really should inhabit. You can decorate in peace knowing you’re doing it for you and your family, not because you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses or compete with your friends.
Do yourself a favor and give envy the boot. Thank me later for clearing up all that tightness in your chest, anxiety about how you’re going to afford it and need for constant comparisons.
P.S. Here’s a fantastic book on living a full life without a need to spend frivolously. Living Well Spending Less is written by Ruth Soukup, who runs a website by the same name. This is a great read (or listen). Pick up the book, ebook or audiobook. It’s life-changing. I’ll do a full review on it another time.