Happy Friday and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! We are all Irish today and there’s a good chance you are wearing something green as you read this. Forever connected with Ireland, Patrick was a gentle and humble man who was actually born in Scotland. Ordained a bishop, he was sent to Ireland to preach the gospel and used the shamrock to teach people about the Trinity. The simple, green plant grows abundantly in Ireland so he cleverly used its three separate parts to explain the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Soon after hearing Patrick’s message, kings and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity and Catholicism.
Ireland was sold, and today we all are just a wee bit Irish, but did you know there are more Irish people in the U.S. than in all of Ireland? An estimated 34 million Americans claim Irish ancestry but the population of Ireland in just over 4 million! St. Patrick is said to be buried in Down Cathedral in the County of Down in Ireland, and ironically we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the day he died.
So now you know the story behind the saint, the holiday, and why you are wearing green today. Green is definitely tied to St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s also tied to jealousy. You know it, you’ve heard it: “green with envy.” That my lads, is nothing to celebrate.
Envy can cause major problems and even wars. It can make us physically ill and it wreaks havoc in relationships. The strain it puts on us brings out the worst in us. Living in a state of “green with envy” leads to saying mean things to others, thinking malicious things about others, and maybe even acting out negatively toward others. In a word, it’s bad.
Still, most of us struggle with envy at one time or another. We envy someone else’s possessions, successes, and life in general. Their kids are smarter, their house is bigger, their job is better. The many faces of jealousy come in the way of wanting something we don’t have such as money, power, beauty, or even fame and prestige. But all of those begrudging thoughts get us nowhere and ultimately make us feel blue.
You see, regardless of how much we covet what others have and strive to top them, there will always, always be someone better than you in some way. Always. And, as Michael Dell so eloquently said, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, find a new room.”
That’s why the constant comparing of your life to someone else’s results only in you feeling inadequate. The only thing comparisons do is point out what you lack and how you don’t measure up. In your mind that is.
I’m as guilty as anyone about doing this. I think it’s human nature to do so and especially if you’re a Type A personality like me. I live for perfection and everything in its place. If and when I do something, I give it my all and truth be told, I secretly hope someone notices and appreciates my efforts. Interestingly, I’m not super competitive and try my best to be happy with what I have. Where I stray is home décor. I know. It sounds crazy and I love my home, but I’m forever finding new ways to decorate and embellish. I might also occasionally stray to the evil side of envy when it comes to my family. Don’t we all?
So, how can we, in today’s “bigger and better” world, avoid that pukey shade of green with envy? One way is, when you feel envy rearing its ugly head, sit back and honestly ask yourself, “What am I jealous of?” “Who am I jealous of?” “How do I compare myself to others?” “Why do I do this?” Also, keep in mind that those people in the gated mansions have problems and struggles just like the rest of us…they just deal with them surrounded by luxury. But remind yourself of one of life’s most reliable rules: money does not buy happiness. With more money comes more pressure and with fame and power comes more responsibility.
At the same time, think of ways you can be like those you are jealous of. That friend who has the perfect body? She likely works out and eats right. Get off the couch, put down the ice cream, and just do it. Those material things you think you need so bad? Maybe they were earned by hard work and saving money. Still, there are some ways you just won’t have what they have, be it wealth or health, but keep in mind there are people out there praying for what you do have and what you maybe aren’t appreciating.
That’s when you should make a list of all you are thankful for and proud of, all of your accomplishments, and all the things going right in your life. Instead of being envious and jealous, be grateful and confident. In doing so I think you’ll find all those Joneses you are trying to keep up with are probably no better off than the Smiths. Hey, I’m a Smith! Time for me to keep up only with who I am and what I’m blessed with.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all and may you reap the blessings of his prayer.