Envy is correlated with the sense of equality. This is an interesting and pertinent question. It’s inevitable to compare ourselves to others, to want something other people have and sometimes it leads to a bigger proportion, in my opinion the most dangerous: envy.

It is really curious how Alain de Botton – swiss writer/ producer who explores the use of philosophy in everyday life – talks about this subject at his lecture “A kinder gentler philosophy of success” (July 2009) at TED: Ideas worth spreading.

According to Boston – and I must say I agree with him – we do not tend to envy someone with whom we cannot establish a relationship of equality; with whom we cannot find a term of comparison, either by age, by social status, by personal path and naturally by artistic path.

All this brings up a mentality of dualism: bad and good are in its extreme poles sustaining tough and unfair self-criticism. There are no formulas, no secrets; there do exist distinct and unique paths.

Another quite interesting aspect which makes us think is meritocracy. We are instilled through the most different ways that a meritocratic society is important. Alain de Botton however raised the idea that according to this maxim if we achieve something good we deserve it; but if we achieve something bad we also deserve that? So that brings a huge weight of negative connotation whenever we fail or we don’t achieve what we dreamed about or worked for. All this gives a derogatory impression about ourselves.

That’s why we find so many mindfulness and spirituality  and nature living books and lectures. These are ways of disconnecting from comparison with human beings and absorbing the inner “self” and relate with something not humanized which leads to a bigger relaxation.

Then comes the concept of success and its paradox failure. And the truth is once again they are correlated. Therefore we cannot be well succeeded in everything we do and there’s always a side that “loses”. We add to this principle the fact that we live an idea of success that is not ours, mas absorbed from others.

So the great sense of all this is to understand what really is our own idea of success, of auto-satisfaction and what brings us genuine happiness and personal accomplishment.

That’s the question: What do I really want?

Alain de Botton TED Talk: A kinder gentler philosophy of success 

TED Talks

by Marina Pacheco

[Photo: Krystallenia Photography]