In life, some of one thing can be healthy, but too much of that same thing can be toxic. There are plenty of examples: food, free time, and fear, to name a few.
Envy is like that, too. Envy can be a healthy motivator, but it can also be a poisonous obsession.
To some extent, we’re all envious.
No one has everything. There is always someone who has more of what we think we need.
The college student is envious of the actress for her fame. The actress is envious of the politician for her power. The politician is envious of the business owner for his money.
And the business owner is envious of the college student for his youth.
We’re all envious to some degree.
Money, particularly, is an object of envy for many people. It seems like no matter how much money people have they often want more.
And it’s not always for egotistical reasons. Sure, there are plenty of people who see money as power, or as the answer to all their problems. Sometimes, though, people yearn for more money out of fear or insecurity. You never know how life will unfold, they think, so they want to be prepared if life throws them seven curve balls in a row.
But I’ve learned one thing from thinking about money, in talking to people with money, and in helping people make more money. And it’s this: You will never get your fill of something you don’t need.
Mae West, an actress and sex symbol in the early 1900s, once said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”
That may be true, to an extent, and on occasion. But too much of anything has a tendency of making people lose everything – or to at least lose sight of the most important things.
They forsake things they truly need for the things other people have. And that road leads to one place: misery.
Like most things in this world, envy isn’t all bad. It causes people to strive to be better, to make more out of themselves. That’s wonderful.
The key is keeping it in moderation.
Money, they say, is the root of all evil. I don’t buy it.
It’s the love of money that is the real evil. It’s the envy of other people’s money that is the real evil. Money can do marvelous things. It can allow you to live a comfortable life, to give money freely to charities, to help your family, friends, and neighbors in their times of need.
But it can be taken too far.
It reminds me of a fable about a cow and pig. Once there was a cow that worked hard plowing the fields all day long. He saw a pig lounging around all day long, eating delicious corn. The cow was envious. So, he began acting just like the pig. Eventually the farmer took notice and sent them both to the slaughterhouse.
Okay, sure, the ending of the fable is a little gruesome. Despite that, it makes an important point.
No one has it all. Never has one person been blessed with full doses of beauty, brains, brawn, and benevolence. We’re all envious.
And that can be healthy – in moderation. Just don’t let it become toxic.
Justin Lueger is President of Invisor Financial LLC, a registered investor adviser firm in the State of Kansas. All opinions expressed are his own and should not be viewed as individual advice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.