Saturday, December 03, 2022 | Jumada al-ula 8, 1444 H
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Envy and its ugly head

We are all aware that envy is one of the heart diseases-morally — that afflict some people. Because of jealousy, a malicious soul creates turmoil for other individuals that God has honoured with certain blessings. It would have been better for all to pray for goodness and continuity of blessings to others but this is not always the case.

Undoubtedly, envy here may spoil our love and dry our souls. It brings out the ugly and spiteful delusions within a person that takes pleasure in the suffering of others for no other reason than their good fortune and makes him/her feel inadequate in comparison.

I can briefly say and believe that envy kills happiness. Unfortunately, envy is completely natural as we notice it in any society and cannot be completely eliminated, but if you understand it better morally and follow the approach of our noble values, then you can stop of stoking it and step back from the edge of that cliff.

Interestingly, when that individual sees that he has fallen behind others in something, the pain he feels often pushes him to build himself up or destroy others. All of this could have been life or death in cave times, but it seems largely outdated today. And you’re probably not likely to die alone because your social media posts are less popular than those of others. But the pain can be just as intense!

On the other hand, medically you realise that envy, when it is malicious, is horrible for you. Neuroscientists have found that envy of others stimulates the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain, which is associated with physical and mental pain. They also noticed through their research and after following up on that envious individual, how his psychological health deteriorated and his level of happiness decreased in his future. Moreover, people usually become more psychologically healthy as they get older, but unfortunately, envy can get in the way of this trend.

And while you are also looking at this era and its remarkable changes, you may notice that this individual also feels envy, when he gets to know the people who seem more fortunate than him. This is simple enough in normal interactions. But conditions of envy explode if we expose people to a wide range of strangers who care about their lives looking as glamorous, successful and happy as possible. I’m describing social media here and the unique fertile conditions it creates for these destructive feelings.

So it was better for anyone to look deeply at himself and leave those around him because in a way the main way we water those dry weeds (envy) is with our attention. We focus intently on the qualities we want but lack.

Social media – for example – may sometimes sow envy: aren’t you with me that it shows you the lives of people who are more fortunate than you, so it has become easier than ever for anyone to brag about their good fortune to the masses and put you in the same virtual society as people who are not in your society. The realist, which makes you compare yourself to them.

Aren’t the posts of some celebrities and influencers a particularly powerful and unnecessary source of envy for those individuals? And by that I mean the solution is not to ditch social media, but rather to unfollow people you don’t know whose posts you see simply because they have what you want. The individual uses social media to keep up with real friends, learn fun and empowering things and maybe even laugh a little.

In the end, there might be an antidote for everyone-too! Gratitude and appreciation for your gifts, whatever they may be helpful. Sincere gratitude extinguishes envy – unfortunately many are aware of that. Hence, if next time your envy is barking, calm it down with thoughts of people who love you, things you enjoy and the good luck you have!

Dr Yousuf Ali Al Mulla is a physician, medical innovator and writer.

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