If you’re familiar with the seven ‘deadly sins’, you might know that each sin has a corresponding ‘heavenly virtue’.
Most of these virtues are direct, yin-yangish opposites of the sin they guard against. Charity vs greed, humility vs pride, and so on. But one pairing stands out to me as a bit unusual: envy vs kindness.
Kindness and envy work in different directions. Kindness is an outward act, whereas envy is an inward feeling, an internal reaction to something outside oneself. Envy is destructive, but only to the person who is envious. (If a person is so envious that they act cruelly towards others, we’re probably into the territory of another sin; wrath.)
The opposite of kindness is cruelty, because they are both outward acts. So what’s the opposite of envy?
It would have to be a feeling that, like envy, is an inward reaction to something someone else has. If envy eats away at a person’s character, the opposite of envy would strengthen and enrich a person’s character. Make them feel inspired rather than insecure.
I vote for admiration.
If you admire your co-worker’s ideas rather than envying them, you take a step towards emulating their creativity. If you admire the happy couple or the happy family rather than envying them, you become less likely to use the truism ‘no relationship is perfect’ as an excuse for not putting the requisite work into your own relationships.
Admiration, like anything else, takes practice. So let’s take a moment together to admire the talents of The Arcadian Wild.
What makes this a beautiful song:
2. The lyrics, which imagine envy as malevolent vines.
3. Their ability to take a destructive feeling like envy and turn it into such a fun, bouncy track is…admirable.
Recommended listening activity:
Buying a stack of “congratulations” greeting cards, and looking for people in your life who deserve them.