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Gratitude and Envy

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Thinking about a recent article on Oliver Sacks in the Globe and Mail: famous neurologist renowned for his work on Parkinson's in particular. And for his non-scientific writings too, including reflections prior to his death after he'd received a terminal diagnosis.

His life was hard, and he approached it nevertheless from that 'attitude of gratitude" place which we all know makes for good mental health.

But he also identified envy as the antithesis of gratitude: looking around and gazing on those who have more and deserve it less. Or so we may think. Because we observe everyone else's life from the outside and only our own individual life (not even really the lives of our nearest and dearest} from the inside.

Envy. Worth noting quietly when it arises. And worth distracting ourselves from gently and firmly. To refocus with gratitude. On the good stuff. Which goodness knows is unearned, at least in my own case pretty much!!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Good thoughts!

    1605 days ago
    Thanks. Good point.
    1605 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14643906
    It would be interesting to speculate on the neurological effect of envy, as Sacks might do, as he wrote on music's effect on the brain in his book Musicophilia. As opposed to gratitude.
    1606 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/16/2016 8:47:34 PM
    Great blog! I love the saying "attitude of gratitude". I use that when I start feeling down and point out, to myself, all of blessings and love that I have. It lifts the mood and combats the ugly green envy. I dislike myself when envy creeps into my head. Gratitude is so much more uplifting and positive!
    1609 days ago
    Dr. Sacks aka Oliver was an amazing man who just recently lost his life but not before he wrote his wonderful Epitaph of Gratitude. Was blessed to have known him from my days at The Neurosciences Institute where he was a good friend and member of our Board. Brilliant and humble don't always fit one man, but he was such.
    1611 days ago
    Ah yes. An attitude of gratitude. Antidote to many toxins of the mind, AkA Stinkin Thinkin. Lovely meditation here.
    1611 days ago
  • _LINDA
    So much wisdom from the webinars. A theme of heal your mind, heal your body. Get rid of stress. Focus on the positive. Being grateful for every day given and spend that precious time wisely. Smile and the world smiles with you! Love this acronym:

    Just the physical act of smiling releases endorphins! Woohoo! A non exercise way to feel good!
    No time for envy when you are focused on the center of being and finding peace in your own world.
    1612 days ago
    Thank you for this blog! There always is this tendency to think that the grass is greener on the other side, but you just NEVER KNOW.
    1612 days ago
    Amen and preach on, sistah! I don't like me when envy creeps in... love your honesty when you write of those kinds of where you have to follow it with (not proud of it)... I have those moments, too (as you have seen me write). I try to devote my energy to combating them with the positives, as I can tell you do! emoticon
    1612 days ago
  • GABY1948
    This is emoticon and TRUE for sure....we all know that whether we want to admit it or now.....and I am SO glad your break didn't last as long as I thought it might! Saw your comment on another blog and was so relieved. emoticon
    1612 days ago
    Fascinating author and topic!
    1612 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    emoticon emoticon RIP Oliver Sacks.
    1612 days ago
    I love Oliver Sacks. I especially enjoyed when he was a guest of Radio Lab (a podcast out of WNYC for those who are not familuar.)

    Envy is a deadly sin for a reason. It is damaging to the soul and turns you away from God/goodness/health.
    1612 days ago
    I am a Sacks fan, I was sorry to hear he had died.
    Good to see you back from your break.
    Yes, envy, move along...
    1612 days ago
    Worth noting and setting aside. Yes.
    1612 days ago
    I have always been a fan of Olover Sacks...so smart and wise and funny.
    I struggled with envy in the past, even though I love my life, but I have somehow learned that we never ever know all the dirty details of someone else's life so there is no point in envying what they have.
    I would not trade a single thing, person or experience for someone else's.
    1612 days ago
  • no profile photo CD15520036
    I think of envy as just wanting something someone else has, and jealousy as wishing someone ill because they have something you want. Envying is more innocent than jealousy, but they both make true friendship difficult or impossible.
    1612 days ago
    I'm not sure if he means envy or jealousy - I think of envy as thinking oh, I'd like hair like hers. Or, gee, what a wonderful job, I'd love a job like that. While jealousy seems more like the opposite of gratitude, when one truly covets what someone else has.

    I'm not sure, though - it's a fine line, isn't it?
    1612 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    We never know what others' paths comprise or where our own paths will lead...
    1612 days ago
    Being envious is a terrible emotion. When it hits I start counting my blessings, and part of that is to say a prayer of thanks for each body part that is still working. I know a few people that are not so lucky, so I start lifting them up in prayer too. My attitude switches right around.
    1612 days ago
    Great thoughts. I tell my kids (and sometimes my co-workers) often that it doesn't matter what other people are doing (or getting or how "lucky" they are or who has the biggest piece of cake (you have cake!)), it only matters what YOU are doing. It's hard for me to keep this in mind, though, so thanks for the reminder. I have a few envy issues myself :)
    1612 days ago
    Thanks. I may check into his writings.
    1612 days ago
    Yes, food for thought.
    "When bad things happen to good people"
    "When good things happen to bad people"
    Both are hard to deal with.
    1612 days ago
    food for thought to go with the morning coffee!
    1612 days ago
  • no profile photo ELRIDDICK
    Thanks for sharing
    1612 days ago
    Wow. Totally got put in my place. Thanks for the knock on the head. Yikes. Lol
    1612 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14815535
    Oh gosh, just re-read 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for Hat' a few weeks ago. He was an awesome man/brilliant scientist!
    1612 days ago
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