Second Blooming (October, 2012)
October 1, 2012My Deadly Sin: Envy
“How many?” I asked Mike. He repeated, “I’m working on number thirteen.” That’s books he has written! He continued. “I sell 100-150 books for $2.99 every day on Amazon. I only make 70 cents per book, but it adds up. Once you have a following, they look for your next book.”
I walked away, astonished. No wonder Mike hasn’t been coming to my writers’ group—he’s too busy writing, publishing, and selling. Then the sin took root as I thought, “He started writing after I did. I’ve only published one book in the same amount of time, and I had a co-author to do that.” I didn’t feel wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, or gluttony…but I sure had a bad case of the sixth deadly sin: ENVY.
The sin has stayed with me all week, so here I am, trying to get rid of it by writing. I hardly recognize myself because typically I’m an encourager, cheering people on with whatever they are trying to accomplish. I celebrate their successes with genuine joy. But now? Envy. A sense of losing the competition…and I didn’t even know there was a competition. Resentment isn’t an issue as I’m truly happy Mike has done so well. I just covet his productivity.
There’s a real downside to being envious. I instantly felt my self-esteem slip and my sense of accomplishment shrink. If this continues, it may rob me of the happiness and satisfaction I’ve experienced so far. Then there’s the scary picture Dante paints in Purgatory where the punishment for envious people is to have their eyes sewn shut with wire. Definitely not good for a writer!
What to do? Continue to let envy poison me, or change something? One choice is to “count my blessings” by looking at what I have accomplished. Yes, progress sometimes seems slow, but it is happening. Betsy and I have sold more than three thousand books, and been featured on several radio and television shows as well as teleseminars. The book has garnered national recognition, and just this summer, I won 3rd place for Chapter 2 in the Writers-Editors Network International Writing Competition. Speaking opportunities are increasing, too. But best of all is when women tell me, “Your book changed my life.” How much more can an author be rewarded than that?
I’ve read that “greatness lies in following your own path.” Obviously, Mike’s and my paths and purposes diverge. He writes killer-thrillers to entertain while I focus on self-help. Comparisons are futile, and I must appreciate the value of my own chosen path.
His success can weigh on me or I can use it as an inspiration to do better, to motivate myself. For starters, I have an e-book nearly ready to be published. It gathers a dozen of my TTN columns in one place. All it needs are a few administrative pages and a cover, then conversion to e-book format, and, voila! a new publication for a broader market. What’s the holdup? Prioritizing and procrastinating. I need to be more like Mike by minimizing extraneous activities and focusing on finishing.
My attitude sorely needs an adjustment, also. When I start my negative self-talk, I’ll counter it with, “The average book sells one hundred copies; you’re far past that,” and, “You’re making a difference in women’s lives.” I’ll choose to smother envy by practicing its opposite—generosity—which has the wonderful effect of uplifting me, too. In my journal, I’ll take the advice I often give others to write down what I’m grateful for today, and what excites me about tomorrow. Gratitude will produce a more positive attitude.
Where’s my envy now? Gone! My eyes are not wired shut, and all I have to say is, “Go, Mike!”
(P.S. You’re not going to believe this—I sure didn’t— but the first time I typed the word “envy,” the print turned RED and I could not make it go away. I had to start all over!)
Editor's Note: Kathleen is our TTN Author of the Month.
Kathleen has been an elementary school teacher, U.S. Navy officer, writer and speaker on military deployments and family life, counselor, college instructor, and coordinator of a hospital-based Employee Assistance Program. She has conducted hundreds of lively seminars for businesses, civic organizations, and non-profit groups on building personal skills and enhancing relationships. She has a bachelor’s degree in Education, a master’s in Management, and a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Kathleen and her co-author, Betsy Smith, Ph.D., wrote the award-winning book Second Blooming for Women: Growing a Life That Matters after Fifty. Both women are accomplished speakers. For more information, you can visit http://www.secondbloomingforwomen.com.