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Inspirational and Insightful Quotations #63 --- Envy

Updated on May 15, 2011

Quotations on Envy

The vice of envy is not only a dangerous but also a mean vice, for it is always a confession of inferiority. It may provoke conduct which will be fruitful of wrongdoing to others; and it must cause misery, if as is so often the case with evil motives it adopts some high sounding alias. The truth is, gentlemen, that each one of us has in him certain passions and instincts which, if they gain the upper hand in his soul, would mean that the wild beast had come uppermost in him. Envy, malice and hatred are such passions, and they are just as bad if directed against a class or group of men as if directed against an individual. What we need in our leaders and teachers is help in suppressing such feelings.

—Theodore Roosevelt, Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec. 31, 1900.

It takes a big man or woman to see other people succeed and not raise a howl about it. Envy is one of the greatest robbers in the world.

—Billy Sunday, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Dec. 5, 1918.

Envy's only weapon is a boomerang by which she attempts to wound others and only hurts herself.

—Phil H. Armstrong, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., June 5, 1924.

The narrower the mind the more room for envy and petty jealousy.

—Benjamin Arstein, San Antonio Express, San Antonio, Texas, June 4, 1911.

Do you envy your neighbor? If you do, you add poison to your disposition and temperament. You benefit by any success your neighbor has if you rejoice with him.

—Phil Conley, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., Feb. 10, 1949.

Envy is feeling bad because another succeeds. It is the concentrated essence of the cussedness of mankind.

—Frank Crane, The Chicago Daily News, Chicago, July 26, 1920.

The meanest feeling of which any human being is capable is feeling bad at another's success.

—Frank Crane, The Chicago Daily News, Chicago, Ill., Sept. 2, 1920.

Envy's memory is nothing but a row of hooks upon which grudges hang.

—Wilfred G. Hurley, Intermountain Catholic, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 10, 1931.

Whatever you have, if the spirit of envious comparison is in your heart, you are poor in the things of life essential to happiness. If you are content with the things within your reach, and are not disposed to go beyond your means, then you are most fortunate.

—Frank Francis, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, April 25, 1924.

Envy will destroy your own chance to master the outward circumstances, the troubles which surround you. Envy is the most bitter enemy of real courage.

—Eugene M. Frank, The Topeka Daily Capital, Topeka, Kan., Oct. 11, 1951.

It is better to excel than to envy, for when you excel others you will have no grounds for envying them.

—B.J.W. Graham, Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 9, 1917.

The acid of envy eats out all happiness from the heart.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., June 9, 1907.

Envy is the habit of extracting our own misery out of the happiness of others.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., July 19, 1908.

Envy is the tribute that sloth pays to industry.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., Nov. 1, 1908.

Don’t be so green with envy you can’t see the bluebird of happiness.

—Bill Copeland, Sarasota Journal, Sarasota, Fla., Oct. 30, 1972.

Envy is an ulcer.

—B.C. Forbes, Forbes Magazine, New York, N.Y., Jan. 15, 1929.

The little man envies; the big man emulates and surpasses.

—W.A. MacKenzie, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., April 7, 1923.

Envy is the green scum of stagnant lives.

—W.A. MacKenzie, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 14, 1922.

Envy does not proceed from your having so little as often as it does from others having so much.

—Bert Moses, Lake Charles American Press, Lake Charles, La., Jan. 17, 1940.

Sometimes it's a little difficult for us to admit the vast difference between desire and envy. Envy is the awkward, grudging tribute paid to genius and success. Desire is that inward burning determination to strive with every fibre of our beings to develop those latent powers inherent in us all to their fullest possibilities.

—G. Rodney, Specialty Salesman Magazine, Atlanta, Ga., March 1939.

Envy always looks upon another's success as a crime.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Jan. 22, 1936.

Have you ever noticed how envious, disagreeable and malicious-minded an idler usually is?

This is a fact worth emphasizing, especially as a warning to all who entertain the absurd notion that a workless existence is desirable.

The truth is that a workless existence is commonly identical with a worthless one.

To be sure, envy is not always absent from those who work. But among workers as a class it is infinitely less in evidence than among chronic idlers.

Among idlers it is almost always present, whether they be poor idlers or rich idlers.

The loafer on the street corner or in the saloon, and the loafer lounging in the cushioned chair of some "exclusive" club, are equally addicted to the vice of envy.

You have only to listen to their conversation to verify this for yourself. Covertly or openly, in coarse language or refined, they delight in "knocking." The reputations of others suffer sadly from their caustic tongues.

To produce this unpleasant state of mind in idlers two main causes are at work, one physical, the other mental. The physical cause is found in the lowered tone of the nervous system, a lowering brought on or intensified by the habit of avoiding sustained effort.

When a man persistently idles is it possible for his nervous system to keep up to par. It weakens, just as unused muscles grow weak.

Thence result almost constant feelings of fatigue, uneasiness and nervous irritability. These feelings may manifest themselves in various physical and mental symptoms, one of which is the development of an envious, jealous mood.

The development of such a mood is also promoted by a distinctly mental factor–the conscious or subconscious appreciation by the idler that he is not playing a man's part in the world, and consequently is inferior to more energetic men.

This feeling of inferiority he naturally resents. He hates to acknowledge it to himself, and endeavors to thrust it completely out of his mind, as a hateful thing to be denied, or at all events forgotten.

In order to help him deny it, he instinctively casts about to discover in other men flaws that will justify him in assuring himself that after all he is not really an inferior.

His tendency to gossip, to dwell on the misfortunes and faults of others, and in general to display a more or less malicious and envious cast of mind, is accordingly what psychologists would call a defense reaction.

This fact does not in the least excuse it. At most it can move us only to a contemptuous pity for the man whose idling ways have made him find it necessary to develop this sort of reaction as a prop for his self-respect.

Pitying him, we should ourselves be inspired with a fervent purpose not to bring on us his sad fate by imitating him in his idleness--especially since envy is only one of numerous unpleasant mental traits to which a life of idleness tends to give rise.

—H. Addington Bruce, Houston Daily Post, Houston, Texas, April 26, 1916.

The next time you are tempted to envy anybody who is making more headway in life than you, stop and reflect a moment.

Ask yourself if it will do you a bit of good to grudge him his success, to feel jealous of him, to insist that luck rather than merit accounts for his success.

Consider whether it will not pay you better to admire rather than envy him, to recognize that progress is possible to you as well as to him, and to try to discover what special qualities he has developed that have made him more successful than you.

Envy, understood well, is an emotional state that has a distinctively paralyzing effect on those who allow it to take possession of them.

Like all depressing emotions it has a disturbing influence on the physical organism. It upsets digestion, lowers nutrition and works mischief to the bodily processes in general.

This, of course, means that it affects the brain as well as the stomach, and thereby inevitably decreases efficiency power.

As a natural consequence, the man who feels envious at the success of a fellow worker will not merely find increased difficulty in winning similar success himself. He may find it hard to hold the position that now is his, simply because he permits himself to become a prey to envy.

On the opposite, generous, sincere satisfaction in an associate's good fortune makes directly for success on one's own part. It does this through the stimulating bodily effects that are always produced by a pleasurable emotional state.

If, moreover, satisfaction in another's success is attended by an intelligent attempt to answer the question, "Why has he moved up and why have I lagged behind?" the possibility of personal success will be vastly increased.

For every man who does lag behind lags because he is short in some success-winning quality or qualities.

Perhaps he is lazy, perhaps he is careless, perhaps he has fallen into dissipated ways.

Possibly his manners are such as to drive people from him, instead of attracting them to him. Possibly he is lacking in self-confidence.

Or it may be that he is satisfied to do his work in a mechanical, routine way and has made no attempt to develop a creative business imagination.

In some way, he may take it for granted he is weak where his more successful worker has shown himself strong.

But he must study the fellow worker and study himself if he would ascertain just wherein he needs self-improvement.

And he will never undertake to study himself either or his fellow worker if he surrenders to envy.

The bitterness he then feels will blind him to the certainty that there must be a good reason for his own failure to make progress.

He will become a victim to self-pity and self-pity is utterly devoid of self-enlarging power.

Shun envy as you would any pestilential disease. For it is truly pestilential.

—H. Addington Bruce, Houston Daily Post, Houston, Texas, Aug. 25, 1916.

Malice, the product of envy and jealousy, brings nothing worthwhile to a community, business, or organization. Hate built up over a period of time is mentally destructive of the foundation of mercy. Because another person is marching to success should be no reason why you should envy him or be jealous of his accomplishments. In most instances, his elevation in life has come from years of preparation, coupled with sacrifices, hardships and turmoil. You cannot climb the ladder and go to the top of the heap without a battle. And if you are not willing to make those sacrifices and dodge the bricks, then why criticize those who are? ...

If a person is a success and you are not, why be envious of his ability? Perhaps the proper application of time and due consideration by you would advance you much further should you only seize the opportunities presented daily to you. It's not how much you may do; but it is what you will do. If you are slipping, put the blame where it belongs--on your own shoulders and not your neighbor's.

Hate, when nursed for years and years, destroys man and his very soul. He is blinded to justice and ignorant of fair play, constantly endeavoring to hurt another individual or group because their opinions vary from his. There can never be happiness where there is malice. Hate creates not only misery; it leads into the paths of ignorance, incompetence, and loneliness. Once poisoned against his fellowmen, the hater can never expect to receive aid, consideration, sympathy, and companionship from those who surround him.

If you are the so-called underdog, take an inventory of yourself. Ascertain the reasons of your failings and resolve you will help conditions by improving yourself and discontinuing your hatred of other people, who seemingly are above you. When a business is losing money, its head doesn't blame the competition. He checks on his concern's own faults; seeks to improve conditions, and removes the cause of approaching failure. If you will do this, and after several months or a longer period of time take balance sheet, the improvement will be readily observed, providing you have really tried. And when you get on top of the other fellow from the proper application of your ability, you will not think he is such a bad fellow after all. Accomplishment on your own part exiles hatred and jealousy.

—Howard D. Strother, The New Era, Eunice, La., June 14, 1938.

Will envy make you unfair? Yes, it can have that effect if you don't watch yourself closely for signs of unfairness to others. Without knowing it, you may unconsciously undermine a co-worker because you envy his ability and the recognition it brings him. If you realize and acknowledge you are envious, you can try harder to merit attention and recognition in your own right. This will improve your relations with your coworkers and will have a tendency to improve your own ability.

—Joseph Whitney, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Sept. 24, 1953.


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