Green-Eyed Monster Is Never Satisfied
OpinionThe Bottom Line

Green-Eyed Monster Is Never Satisfied

Jealousy is a destructive force powered by the insatiable need for more.

Edvard Munch returned to the subject of jealousy many times, including this piece, painted around 1907 and housed in the Munch Museum in Oslo.
Edvard Munch returned to the subject of jealousy many times, including this piece, painted around 1907 and housed in the Munch Museum in Oslo.

Jealousy will take you out of this world. I am totally convinced of that.

Jealousy can lead to lying, to cheating, to fighting, to killing and to insanity. Now who wants to end up being that way? In principle, no one, yet jealousy is rampant.

If you’re jealous, you are driven to follow what others are doing or at least think you want what they have. You are not willing to give what you have, but you want what the other person has.

You don’t think about what you have at all. You just want what the other person has.

The worst word in the English language is “more.” We have a culture that emphasizes having more and more and more. We think we are second class or poor if we don’t have what the other guy has.

Advertising promotes jealousy, and that isn’t good. The object of growing old is to simplify your life, and jealousy is just the opposite — it makes your life much more difficult.

Now, what do I need one more of? I don’t need one more pound on my body, or one more bottle of liquor, or one more shirt, or socks or pants or ties.

I can skip shopping. I can skip another hardy meal or even a drink of booze.

However, there are a few things more that I would like. I would like another hour of sleep when I wake up at 5 a.m. I would like another good movie; there are so few of them. I would like a compelling show on TV that I can watch without someone being killed or raped or cursed.

I would like one more lovely day of warm weather to enjoy the sun, the heat and the smell of the outdoors. I would like one more book that I can write and publish.

One more is what everyone is trying to sell me. It is American capitalism. It is keeping up with the Cohens. It is being convinced that I need one more, that I can’t live without it, that spending money on one more is what I need to be happy.

More, and one more — what a disgusting word, what a disgusting concept. It is buy, buy, buy. It is spend, spend, spend, and the company’s motto is sell, sell, sell.

I am sick and tired of the mail and email I get telling me to buy a product, tired of the phone calls offering me products I don’t need and tired of the junk mail telling me that my lost relative left me $6 million if only I pay the $100 in shipping costs to receive this windfall.

Leave me alone to enjoy my day. Let me decide what I want to buy. Don’t tell me I need one more. I’ll let you know when I’m ready.

And, by the way, I don’t need one more because I don’t even have one to begin with. I don’t need even 1 percent of what you’re selling.

So, what am I jealous of? What do I want that I don’t have?

The answer is less weight on my body. I want to weigh 160 pounds, run a marathon, make tons of money in the stock market, have servants at my beck and call, have a terrific memory, meet the leaders of the free world, own a sailboat and sail around the Caribbean, be on the front page of The New York Times, and have huge parties that I give as the host.

Am I jealous that I am not doing that? Just a tiny little bit, not much to get me into action, but enough to know that I wouldn’t refuse the possibility if any of them occurred.

What I am now seriously jealous about are the people I spend my time with and how I spend my time.

I want my remaining days to count. I want to have some impact on my world, and often I don’t know if that’s happening. The more jealous I am about my time, the better I will feel about my life.

The bottom line: Jealousy of others is a thirst that cannot be quenched.

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