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Dealing with Envy

I have serious and life threatening health problems that limit my energy and ability to travel, engage in sport, socialise and do stuff around the house. Although I am able to work full time, money is still very short so that we have a lot of work to do on our home that we cannot afford to do and neither can we afford holidays or weekends away. I'm in my 40s and my husband is in his 50s. It has always been like this and there is no prospect of any change unless we win the lottery :rolleyes:

Some of the time I can deal with our lives and accept that this is my kamma and I can also acknowledge the good things in our lives. However, other times I feel very resentful and envious of people with good health and plenty of money. It just seems so unfair (she said childishly!!).

Does anyone have a practice or advice that I can engage in specifically when I meet or have contact with those who seem so much better off? I don't think that my envy or resentment affects my behaviour - I would be appalled if it did - but it does affect my state of mind!

Namaste

Comments

  • edited April 2010
    Wow it does sound like you have been dealt a rough hand. I can relate to this from a child's POV as this was the situation they found themselves in when trying to raise me, and both of them were and still are very angry, bitter and hateful people to others and to themselves. It must be very hard seeing others who seem 'better off' than you, but this term is subjective.

    People who have lots of money have their own sufferings, such as having expensive possessions and feelings very bad when their either lose these possessions or when these possessions are damaged. Also these people may have worked very hard for this money and this may have caused arguments and upset in their relationships. Also they may be very stressed out in their jobs.

    People who have good health may actually have mental issues regarding their health (like myself) or other aspects - remember the old saying 'dont judge a book by its cover'.

    I understand how soul destroying it is to live in a house in which work needs to be done and nothing every looks and feels clean - it drives me mad! But, try to meditate on what in paricular is bugging you about the state of the house - really get to the nitty gritty of it. Then try to focus on seeing the 'mess' in your house and something positive. Remember we give things their labels - one persons mess is another's artwork!

    I hope this has helped in someway. And remember, always check in on your breathing because thats free and the key to inner peace.

    Peace and love to you xxx
  • edited April 2010
    Hi Fran,

    Normally, we just haphazardly experience the ups and downs of the emotional world according to external circumstances. We are in pain or we are sick, so we get a short temper. We hear about the death of someone we loved and we get depressed about it. These emotions are mindless reactive emotions. Its not our fault that we react this way, it is just that we haven't yet put in the effort to train our minds. The good news is that we aren't locked in to our habitual reactions. With mindfulness, we can intentionally bring about wholesome emotions and gradually weaken and ultimately abandon the unwholesome states of mind.

    Have you heard of the "Four Brahmaviharas"? Roughly translated, it means "Four Sublime Abidings". These are: Metta (Loving Kindness), Karuna (Compassion), Mudita (Joy for the good fortune of others!) and Uppekha (Equanimity). The Buddha encouraged many people to intentionally cultivate these positive (although, technically equanimity is more of a neutral state) emotions. Of these, Mudita is the most direct antidote to feelings of jealousy and envy. I would also recommend developing the others too, they are all mutually supportive to our practice.

    With Metta,

    Guy
  • edited April 2010
    GuyC;99246 said:
    Hi Fran,

    Normally, we just haphazardly experience the ups and downs of the emotional world according to external circumstances. We are in pain or we are sick, so we get a short temper. We hear about the death of someone we loved and we get depressed about it. These emotions are mindless reactive emotions. Its not our fault that we react this way, it is just that we haven't yet put in the effort to train our minds. The good news is that we aren't locked in to our habitual reactions. With mindfulness, we can intentionally bring about wholesome emotions and gradually weaken and ultimately abandon the unwholesome states of mind.
    Guyc is very eloquent :)
    the mindless reactive emotion here is feeling guilty.

    This is a conditioning, when the situation present itself (someone talk about somebody well off, you see the neighbors go to work in their nice car...) your brain automatically react with envy.

    It does so automatically because it is programmed to do so.
    Once you first picked up this behavior (of reacting in this fashion), it became an habit, and your brain figured out "well thats how she want to react to this kind of situation, so I will make it an automatic conditioning so she doesn't even have to do anything next time, I will react automatically in this fashion, I'm a good brain!!"

    Once you decided that feeling guilty is not going to help anything, just make you feel miserable and create suffering in you, you want to stop doing this to yourself.

    Through meditation, you can observe this conditioning unfolding, see how a thought triggers it...
    When you see it for what it is, it will be more difficult to take your emotions and your thoughts too seriously, since now you know where they come from...

    when you have the thoughts and feeling of guilt coming back, you just think to yourself:"ah here we go again. The old broken record of the guilt conditioning coming back to play it's tune... how silly he seem to be now..."
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    edited April 2010
    Fran,
    I wish you well and good tidings on this leg of the journey, it sounds like it has been difficult!

    In addition to Guy and patbb's comments, I'd also like to remind you that suffering is universal.

    Because you're attributing your pain and lack of money to your suffering, you might say "look, I am with pain and poor, I suffer!"
    Then, I hear you say: "That person has no pain and has money, so they don't suffer" which might give rise to that envy...it being based on your inability to connect, or see, or relate to the kind of suffering they do have. I would bet that they do have suffering, it is just a different flavor than yours.

    If you see that others' suffering is deep, then you may more easily cultivate the awareness and compassion for them, perhaps even making the blessings that are in your life more available.

    With warmth and blessings,

    Matt
  • edited April 2010
    Fran45;99241 said:
    I have serious and life threatening health problems that limit my energy and ability to travel, engage in sport, socialise and do stuff around the house. Although I am able to work full time, money is still very short so that we have a lot of work to do on our home that we cannot afford to do and neither can we afford holidays or weekends away. I'm in my 40s and my husband is in his 50s. It has always been like this and there is no prospect of any change unless we win the lottery :rolleyes:

    Maybe there is something that can be done. Sometimes a situation can feel permanent, but we know everything changes. Maybe you already have an idea waiting to be born deep inside yourself.

    well wishes
  • AllbuddhaBoundAllbuddhaBound Veteran
    edited April 2010
    I agree with the above statements. All of them have a lot of truth for me. One way I have discovered how I can deal with my envy, is to fill myself with compassion for people who suffer more than I do. When I am being stingy and that is my affliction, I never have a problem finding someone even stingier than I am (you could even look at the book of world records.)

    When I find someone who is afflicted with problems I have but worse, and do some loving kindness meditation for them, it really helps me loosen the purse strings. Don't ask me why but it does work that way for me.


    Namaste
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited April 2010
    Wishing you had something more isn't wrong I think it gets a little twisted though particularly if you are wishing against people with more. I know many people who study personally with my lama but I am disabled and I cannot travel away from my home with family. I am envious but one thing makes it better is that I am happy for the people who do have this opportunity.

    But lets examine the wishes that you have. You wish for more money to fix the house and more freedom to have some time off from work. Theres nothing wrong with those wishes. They come from a good place. I would suggest examining why you have those wishes? Why do you want the house fixed? Why do you want time off? I think you'll find compassion for yourself at the heart of this envy and you may be able to feel the goodness of that.

    As far as the negativity I have that come up every day. I really notice it it seems to drive me around. But that drives me to the buddhist practice. I feel that meditating with negative feelings is a courageous way to face them and a logical sound way. In effect rather than being able to change my life I use my 'less than perfect' life to study the dharma which in turn is rewarding.
  • edited April 2010
    http://www.youtube.com/user/BuddhistSocietyWA#p/u/0/USC5MJVZLy8

    Ajahn Brahm is very eloquent as well :)

    I think that many people on this forum (not necessarily this thread) use too many words, make things way too complex and complicated.
    This results in things remaining only mental concepts, feeding the monkey mind, but nobody being able to apply anything in their real lives.

    This is why I like Ajahn Brahm ability to make things real. To take these mental concepts and apply them in real life through examples.
  • edited April 2010
    Hi Fran,

    I'm so sorry about your difficulties, you might find this helpful.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D644BWAUOXo&feature=related


    May all beings be free from suffering.


    Kind wishes,


    Dazzle


    .
  • edited April 2010
    Hi Fran,

    Sorry to hear about your situation. I do wish you win the lottery so you can have some financial security :D

    But since your financial situation won't change anytime soon, you may be able to work around it.

    About your envy of people who are wealthier and in good health, you actually don't know what they have to go through or what they had to do get their wealth (who knows, maybe they had to do some questionable things, things you wouldn't be able to live with). And also, having good physical health isn't better than having good mental health (in my opinion). The gist is that you just don't know the whole story about other people.

    On a more tangible note. I've always found that I feel a lot better when my home is nice and tidy. I used to live in a tiny apartment that I could barely afford. One day I cleaned up my place and arrange the furniture to maximize the space (I looked up some Feng Shui tips), and I was so happy. The apartment itself was still tiny and crappy, but just the fact it was tidy made me feel really good. Just having that nice environment around me did wonders to lift my spirits.
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