Monday, May 21, 2012


The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch. Jim Rohn.

British philosopher Bertrand Russel called envy "one of the most potent forms of unhappiness." Without doubt, we've all met people who seem eaten up by envy. Perhaps, if we are honest, we can even admit to the times we too have found ourselves in the invidious position of wishing we had the house, car, looks, money or achievements that belong, in truth, to others.

We tend to think of envy as an emotion that is directed towards some other persons possessions, but, in the outdoor community, I find envy is more frequently directed towards some other persons achievements. Often times, achieving things in the outdoors - such as climbing a specific route or mountain, skiing a demanding line, or completing a traverse - requires, along with all the technical skill, some personal sacrifice. This sacrifice may be as simple as getting up early and missing a few hours sleep, or it may mean a season of training and skill development, exposure to significant risk, and a rigorous diet and exercise program.

So many times, the people who are clearly envious seem to be the ones who are unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve what others have. But, I'm not sure that envy, at least in some people, doesn't go deeper than just a lack of motivation to a more profound sense of inferiority. After all, for many people envy is a significant motivator to get engaged, work hard, and achieve that which they envied. In others, however, rather than motivating achievement, envy results in anger, bitterness and resentment. Sadly, these folks never seem to recognize their own envy and never learn to use envy as a positive motivational tool rather devolving into schadenfreude.

Envy, like everything else in life, can either help you grow or stagnate.  As always, you get to choose. 
Big Smiles at the top of Satoria, Portero Chico

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