Among the seven sins, pay special attention to envy and its ability to limit you. Kick the habit and find yourself a much more successful person.
One person, famous for holding a large, feisty family together with her care, warmth, counsel and infectious affection, is interior designer, host par excellence and foodie writer Zarine Khan, also the wife of director-actor Sanjay Khan. A personal favourite of mine, I’ve always wanted to know the secret of her being this benevolent, solicitous anchor to her large extended and even close family, of kids, grandkids, uncles, sisters in law, brothers in law, et al. And last night at an intimate dinner — because only at a snug evening can one have conversations of this kind — she opined her philosophy in sync with the caring person I know her to be.
“One has to completely give up envy,” she shared. And I thought about it, realising that envy, comparisons, jealousy, competitiveness are emotions that are bound to come up in relationships no matter what. However altruistic a person is, these are traits a man is born with and they well up in one’s chest the moment someone in front of them is doing better. One feels ‘left behind’ and emotions that humans seem to have in some DNA coding come welling up.
Something almost all of us experience from childhood and often sporadically as adults is envy, isn’t it? Perhaps like Zarine Khan, maturity and wisdom help us overcome these baser aspects of human nature over time, but I believe it takes work. Self-work.
I listened (with envy!) of Zarine’s personal journey of discovery, which had early on in her life made her a well-liked person with friendships that have endured and flourished to enrich life till the present. I wished I had written of this earlier. But what's wrong with now?
It was when Sanjay Khan was courting Zarine that she won over his mother with her generous nature, shorn totally of any jealousy or envy at Sanjay's overriding love for his mother. She tells me, “Nisha, I understood that envy would make me the loser!”
What I gathered from her good sense was so known to all but the mind gives in to gravity unless better sense is knocked in. Jealousy, comparisons, resentment and the resultant pain only make one a bitter person, perennially dissatisfied with his lot until it becomes a groove in the mind.
The habit of thought where one can only bemoan with rancour over the various ‘lacks’ in one’s own life and perceived opulence others are endowed with. The other home, the more pricy car, the greater wealth, the better comforts, the easier life, access to a ‘posh’ wardrobe, the ability to gorge and remain slim. A more indulgent husband. In a nutshell, “Why has everyone got everything good and I...?”
Is it likely that a person, thus obsessed with his dissatisfactions, be the companion one would choose to have a cup of coffee with, let alone a long friendship?
Ratan Tata, the iconic industrialist, had spoken to a journalist about how he only traverses a path that is his own, unmindful of other people’s paths! It is as I understand it — about his own journey and about destinations he has set for himself; untrammelled by insidious superfluities of what one hundred other industrialists may be doing or achieving. “I run a race only with myself,” he said.
I am left feeling, upon these considerations, that, after all, one can only live one's own life with one’s own sets of assets at all levels, and one has to work with those! Where a person has to work his mind to this game point, he would turn out to be of a more generous outlook, much more inclusive in nature, at ease with his own being and working to the best possible heights of his own capabilities.
It is a fact that people glean by osmosis that these attractive qualities make them a more attractive person to have around. It’s also true that relationships and friendships can have many complex operatives. Certainly, a common wavelength, laughter, a sense of humour, interesting conversation, even the much-touted sex-appeal factor, are generated with an attitude of gratitude.
What I'd like to state in a sum up is that a person embittered with envy has organically made himself bereft of all the above.
The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org