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Cultivating an Abundant Life by Overcoming Envy

Here's a five-step process to finding deep contentment with what you have right now.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.com

There are many ways that we can define abundance. Scroll through your Instagram feed and you’ll feel like everybody else but you, is living an abundant life. You see travel photos, photos of friends getting married, having children, buying a new house, purchasing a new car, getting a promotion, celebrities attending VIP parties, working out, getting rock solid abs, etcetera, etcetera.

In short, it is tempting to feel that living an abundant life is contingent to having more and more resources at our disposal. It is equally tempting to feel envious of those who we feel has more, because they become a threat – they make us feel that we do not have enough. Or that we are not enough.

What Truly Makes an Abundant Life

It is a well known fact that chasing success is like running on a hamster wheel – as we achieve more, we want more. People are funny that way. I personally believe that the feeling of abundance can only be truly sustained when we look inwards. It’s more than an external issue; more than a mind issue. It truly is an issue of the heart.

In my observation, there is one specific thing that strongly contributes to a life of abundance: the remarkable ability to be contented now, regardless of our circumstances. And this can best be done when we stop envying the lives of others.

As the poem Desiderata so articulately warns, “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

So How Do We Become Free of Envy?

One of my favorite authors, John Eldredge made a four-part series on this topic. It’s perhaps the best series of podcasts that I’ve listened to so far because it addresses the root cause of envy and discontent.

John Eldridge mentioned that envy has two parts to it. The first part asks the question, “Why don’t I get to enjoy what another person is enjoying?”; the second part says, “Why should he/she enjoy this, if I’m not able to have it also?”The first part makes you feel like crap, the second part brings about the destructive desire to put others down.

Both are equally dangerous.

In order to free ourselves from envy and live an abundant life, here are a few suggestions:

1. Become aware of this feeling. Know when envy is starting to creep in so you can nip it in the bud at the onset. You’ll feel it in your gut. You’ll start questioning God. You’ll start having a sense of entitlement.

2. In prayer, repent of this feeling. This is more than a battle of the mind. I believe that envy (being one of the seven deadly sins), has a spiritual component to it.

3. Celebrate and bless others for the things they have that you wish you have. Like literally say, “I bless so and so for receiving that promotion. I hope they succeed.” Say it out loud, even if at first you don’t mean it. Our thoughts, emotions and actions are all interconnected. In time, your emotions will follow.

4. Think of three things that you are grateful for right now. And Write. It. Down. Did your man just give you roses for Valentines Day? Put that on your “Things I’m grateful for” list. Did you just wake up to the most beautiful sunrise? Don’t take that for granted. It’s nearly impossible to feel gratitude and envy at the same time. Remember that faith always trumps fear.

5. Learn to be a good and strict gatekeeper of what you allow yourself to see, hear and experience. I’m telling you, I have yet to meet a person who felt great after thirty minutes of scrolling through social media. It’s a freaking comparison machine. Be aware of what triggers your envy, and guard against these triggers like your life depends on it (because it actually does).

I’d like to end this blog with a quote from Apostle Paul, who despite being thrown in prison, and was stoned and beaten with rods, still wrote one of the most powerful verses on this subject,

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

May we all find contentment and live abundant lives today.

Originally published on savoringgreens.com.

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