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Issue of October 15, 2014

A hope note
A hope note
Dr. Wayne Willis reflects on life and hope.

That 'green-eyed monster'

August 06, 2014 | 10:31 AM

There was a man who was constantly asking God for favors. One day, God said: "OK, I'm going to grant you whatever you want, but with one condition: whatever you get, your neighbors get double."

"No problem, let's get started!" the man said. First he asked for a brand new Learjet. He got it, but his neighbors on both sides got two. Next day, he prayed, "I'd like a mansion." He got it, but his neighbors got one twice as large. Then he asked for a beautiful girlfriend. His neighbors got one on each arm. Whenever he looked out his mansion's windows, all he could see was how much better off his neighbors were than he. Becoming very depressed and burning with envy, one day he prayed: "God, give me blindness in one eye." The next day he prayed, "God, give me one big ditch alongside my house." With his neighbors blind and falling in their ditches, he began to feel better.

Shakespeare called jealousy "the green-eyed monster." Asked what to do about feeling green with envy, Erma Bombeck said to pray. Her prayer was: "Lord, if you can't make me look thinner, at least make my neighbors look fatter."

Usually, the object of our envy is not some Hollywood celebrity or world ruler partying on a yacht. More likely it's the person who got the job we wanted or the acquaintance who had a baby when we're having trouble getting pregnant.

Why is the color green associated with envy? Green is the color of bile and nausea and phlegm and sickness. Unchecked, envy can become a sickness unto death.

Psychotherapist Albert Ellis advised: "Aim to do your best, not the best." We have one garden to tend. Our big question is not "How does your neighbor's garden grow?"

Dr. Wayne Willis

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