NYTimes: The Upside of Envy

The Upside of Envy https://nyti.ms/2FLaNXE


At therapist with some 30 years of experience recently confided to me that of all the themes his clients found difficult to delve into — sex included — there was no tougher nut to crack than envy. Aristotle described envy not as benign desire for what someone else possesses but “as the pain caused by the good fortune of others.” Not surprisingly these pangs often give way to a feeling of malice. Witness the fact that throughout history and across cultures, anyone who enjoyed a piece of good fortune feared and set up defenses against the “evil eye.” Of course, there is not much talk today about the evil eye, at least not in the West, but it surely isn’t because we are less prone to envy than our ancestors.

In his essay “On Envy,” the philosopher Francis Bacon wrote, “Of all other affections, it is the most importune and continual. For of other affections there is occasion given but now and then; and therefore it was well said, ‘Invidia festos dies non agit.’ ” That is, “Envy keeps no holidays.”


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