“The spirit of envy can destroy; it can never build.”


Being or finding happiness is an inside job.  This means it is a lot of work and my responsibility.   Lately I’ve been asking those around me to play a game.  Smile at a stranger, hold the door for someone who is carrying items, call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.  Ready? Go!    Be nice, think nice and act nice.  


We will work on looking great in an outfit, work-out to get a great six pack or get surgery to look great on the outside.  How are you on the inside though?  Abraham Lincoln said you have to make up your mind to be happy.  It starts with just deciding to be so.  No reason necessary.  


If you thought that was hard work, it is even harder to be happy for another.   Envy is an emotion, along with fear or anger, that often rise up first.   You know what I’m talking about.  That person just cut you off, got a promotion over you, or took the last cupcake at the bakery.  We justify it and get mad at everyone else around us.  “They are stupid”  or “Such an idiot”. 


If only the world did what you wanted… then all would be well. Right?  Yet where is that place?  Does it really exist?   Where was this place where everyone did what you wanted, had your beliefs and said “you know you were right all along.”  Not only does that not happen but we often end up moving onto another event and finding that next struggle or disappointment.  Maybe because it is like a warm blanket of comfort to feel this way.  


Each of us knows at least one person who is upset all the time. Almost afraid to ask them how they are because it is never good news. I don’t have a desire to control them or help them though.  All I can do is to choose to be around happy places, people and things.  However secretly I laugh as I don’t go out of my way to make that person unhappy but as it happens I often just reflect that somehow I disappointed them again.  Almost like a ticker – check.  Done it again.  


In recruiting we see this a lot as we meet those who constantly want to pass the buck. It is never them.  Someone has let them down to their lists of expectations.  My colleague likes to tell me she is ‘managing the disappointment of others.’  Sometimes it can feel that way.  One letdown and then another.  Even when I get people ready for interviews I’ll ask them ‘so when you are in an interview and asked why you are looking – what do you say?’  They go on and on about what they want, why it is great for them.  I wait for them to even mention if they have or are what the other person may want or need. 


Being happy can have an interesting impact around you.  I love smiling and watching strangers smile back.  However there are those that don’t like that you are happy; yes even those yogi’s.  Maybe they can’t trust it or just be happy for the other person right then, that moment.   I have a co-worker with an amazing laugh and I know of those who would get upset at it.  She could care less but it is interesting that someone else’s happiness bothers others.


In yoga I love teaching about the emotion of envy.  In positions or posture we are often caught comparing ourselves.  We are quick to wonder if it is right, correct or compare.   If someone next to us is able to do something the other can’t, what is the first emotion?  If the person next too you is smaller or larger, how quick are we to determine their character.  Do we wish that they would fall or fail somehow to make us feel better?  Most laugh when I suggest this but we don’t want to admit we think it.  How many of us watch a TV show just to get this feeling? I hear many say they watch to see that they aren’t so bad after all. 


Off the mat I see it a lot.  Even today I see cases of rape or sexual assault going on in the press.  We are quick to take the victim and make her a slut or somehow deserving of it.  Did she walk home in the dark, drink alcohol or trust her attacker – maybe she liked the person and “wanted this”.  All items that may have occurred but did she ever deserve to be attacked?  No she didn’t.   


I remember when my Father past away, 25 years ago today actually. It was an unexpected heart-attack. My family were all in a state of shock to say the least.  I remember going to the pharmacy that night to get my Mother a prescription to calm her.  I don’t remember much about the event being in that state.  What I do remember was getting to the back pharmacy counter at the same time as another customer who just wanted to check out as the line was shorter than upfront in the store.   I just wanted to get the prescription. The clerk saw us and told me to wait while she checked the person out.  My friend stepped up and said “please let her go ahead as she just lost her Father”.  Each person, clerk to the customer, offered compassion immediately and yet the circumstances weren’t any different than a moment before.  Why can’t we all assume that the person around us may be someone who needs our support and less judgement?  We use excuses such as time for our behavior but how much time are we really saving?  What if we lived as if we all knew each other and that our lifespan gave each of us only one more day to live? Would you behave differently?   We all see this in our community every now and then in times of tragedy.  We all pull together and help.  So why not work each day to stay that way?


Something to think about the next time someone cuts you off.  Maybe there is a very good reason.  That colleague got a promotion you wanted. Ok.  Now can you be happy for them? Just as you would want them to be happy for you?  As to that last cupcake – well maybe it was just meant to be.  Maybe you try something else and discover how great that was.  Maybe it was meant to happen and you were never in control. Just along for the ride.  


As to those who may be suspicious of my smile & happiness I just offer them not to get too close.  It is contagious.