The competition is in the mirror. Gratitude for the opportunity of being alive is proper to our condition. Envy is nothing new, indeed it is an error as old as the world, though it is true that people are now seeking the wrong axis through self-scrutiny and in social media, nor is the answer generally to be found in the vapourings of the lifestyle articles of the Guardian. The confessions of the first paragraph are ugly revelations, better dissembled, since they are of limited objective interest. Seek wisdom, not status. Study for the joy of discovery, learn a few languages, take some exercise and don’t look for rewards. Delight in the success of others and help them to achieve it; often, their progress will bring burdens of responsibility you would prefer not to shoulder anyway. That is their affair. The author of this article, who feels she is doing something important, could have learnt the rudimentary grammar of a language in the time it took to write this commentary on our times. Envy has always been the enemy; my father, who possessed little that he hadn’t forged by his own effort, by-passed it altogether by taking pleasure in birdsong, gardening and playing the flute. The implicit message of this article is that the author has been aspiring to be her own axis; this is a cardinal error, known as that of the “moi désaxé”, or the misplaced axis of the self. If there is no longer a being external to us in whom to invest our faith, there is still the business of studying the accumulated knowledge of our forebears in science and in the arts, an endeavour that will free us from solipsism. This is an endless cure for envy. LJ
Social media has created a world in which everyone seems ecstatic – apart from us. Is there any way for people to curb their resentment?
— Read on www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/09/age-envy-be-happy-everyone-else-perfect-social-media