Man on the right Friedrich Nietzsche is known for 2 things…
His moustache and having controversial opinions among them include God is dead, Alcohol is evil and religion is used to numb people.
But no philosopher focused as much on envy than Nietzsche did. He thought
Envy should be embraced not shamed.
This was a shocker during a time when Christianity among other religions shunned those who were envious, equating their behaviour to evilness.
But Nietzsche argued that envy is a natural instinct helping in survival. It subconsciously creates goals for us to achieve what we truly want in life.
The people you envy should serve as a motivator for self-improvement.
But it’s important to realize that made sense during Nietzsche’s time.
In the 1800s the world was more isolated. People had their own bubbles.
Being the best at something in you’re community was attainable.
But that doesn’t make sense for the world we live in today…
Our world is insanely connected we see the best of the best, access to millions of people. The average American spends 12 hours consuming media every day. 3 hours on social media for those between 16–25 years old.
Access to the highest standards of people.
There are so many things you could spend your entire life chasing after, but it would be impossible to achieve them all… You can’t have the world's best body, best brain, best social circle, best family all at once.
If envy is using someone as a poster for who to become, in our world we have posters on every wall. And their the best in the world…
In this age, envy will leave you in a constant state of resentfulness…
It will leave us chasing things and feeling unfulfilled when we attain them, leaving us craving more and more…
Now if we focus on the definition of envy:
desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to (someone else).
This inherently isn’t a bad thing but the scale to which we’re measuring our selves is important.
The feelings we have associated with envy are key too. Envy associates a resentment towards the other person.
Where the goal that Nietzsche suggests envy is used for is to help us create goals and serve as fuel.
Instead, it’s probable that Nietzsche confused the envy with motivation. Motivation involves positive feelings and a sense of inspiration from the other person.
Let’s narrow in on the feeling of resentfulness because it’s the variable between envy vs motivation.
Why do you feel resentful?
Is it because the other person has something you lack?
Okay… but why do you feel pain?
Is it because part of you doesn't love yourself because you lack X?
Do you think you will love yourself when you have X?
I think that’s the key, the feeling of loving yourself.
There’s a dissonance of you’re perceived state vs your actual state. This causes pain. You will be in pain until you close the gap of dissonance.
While inspiration stems from love, the idea that you could be like the other person.“If they can do it I can do it”. It stems from love, you will feel love during the journey and long after you achieve the state.
So don’t envy the best bodies, minds, things in the world. Instead, learn from them and how you can incorporate their practices into your daily life. So that you’re on a journey of self-love and improvement, not resentment.
What to do when you envy someone
- Recognize why you feel resentment
- Recognize that it’s not you’re fault for wanting that thing, it was likely survival built into you or mimetic.
- Understand that it doesn’t make sense to feel this way
- Use the person as a learning point, what is it that they did to attain x. If it’s not something in their control then it doesn’t make sense to envy them because of no matter how you feel you won’t attain what they have.
So it’s time to rethink what Fredrich Nietzsche had to say about envy and to be more cognizant of the philosophies during a certain time period recognizing continuity and change.