Fun Time: ENVY CAN MOTIVATE US TO BE BETTER
Many of us, if we’re willing to admit it, have been envious of our friends at one time or another. Perhaps we were envious of the sporty car they were driving. Perhaps we were envious of the nice house they own. Perhaps we were envious of all the “friends” they had on Facebook, more friends than can fit in Sri Lanka.
But is it a bad thing to be envious? Not necessarily, say the experts. Envy can be motivating.
Indeed, just look how motivating it was for a 24-year-old Hyderabad man named Katraju Shashikanth. When he heard that his friend Sairam Kaleru had been granted a visa to travel to Canada for further studies, Shashikanth was motivated to send an email to Canadian immigration to cancel the visa.
That attempt failed, but Shashikanth continued to be motivated. The day before Kaleru was scheduled to fly from Hyderabad airport to Canada, Shashikanth was motivated to send an email to the airport’s customer support department, saying, “I want to blast bomb in airport tomorrow.”
According to an India Today report, the email triggered an investigation and Shashikanth was arrested for committing an unlawful act under the Safety of Civil Aviation Act of the Indian Penal Code. While his friend was on his way to Canada, Shashikanth was on his way to prison.
If envy is supposed to be motivating, it sometimes motivates people in the wrong way. Shashikanth was apparently struggling to find a job; hence his intense envy upon hearing that his friend had an opportunity to go abroad, get more education, and perhaps land a high-paying job. Instead of being motivated to work harder to improve his status, he found a way to worsen it.
Perhaps Shashikanth didn’t feel that he could realistically achieve what his friend had achieved. Indeed, so many of us probably feel the same way when we look at our friends.
One friend is so good-looking that to get anywhere close to that, we’d have to start living inside the cosmetic surgery clinic.
One friend is so wealthy that to get anywhere close to that, we’d have to kidnap one of the Kardashians for a ransom.
One friend is so famous that to get anywhere close to that, we’d have to marry one of the Khans (preferably not Salman).
One friend is so intelligent that to get anywhere close to that, we’d have to attend IIT and MIT simultaneously.
No matter how hard we try, we can’t come close to equaling our friends in some areas. There are many reasons for this. Here are just a few:
1. Each person is born with a unique set of talents. Your friend might be blessed with an amazing talent for hitting a tennis ball, while you’ve been blessed with an amazing talent for hitting the bars at night. Of course, talent can be developed, but you can’t just take someone off the street and turn them into Roger Federer.
2. Each person grows up with different circumstances. Your friend’s parents might have encouraged him to “shoot for the stars” and “aim high,” while your parents told you to “be realistic” and “aim low.” Your friend might have grown up in an urban setting and a well-to-do household, while you grew up in a rural setting and a milking-to-do household.
3. Each person makes different choices and gets different opportunities in life. Your friend may have chosen a career that’s very rewarding financially (banking), while you chose a career that’s very rewarding intellectually (teaching). When your friend drives past you in a Mercedes Benz, there’s only one thing to do: hold a textbook in front of your eyes.
It’s natural to be envious, but we also need to be grateful for what we have, and focus on how we can improve ourselves. And perhaps we also need to be happy about our friend’s success—just in case we ever need to borrow money from them.
Cosmetic surgery isn’t cheap.
Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
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