From time to time, even the true downshifter, who is much less interested in power, money, glamour that the average chap, will feel a stitch of envy.
Especially if you are a self-made man or woman, who started without rich daddy, without great family connections, helping little ties etc.
A downshifter will typically not envy the powerful or rich career makers who made it to the top on their own account and paid their price to climb up the ladder, because he theoretically could have done the same but decided not to.
But he might envy the 1% (or 5%, whatever), who did just nothing, who did not work hard or invest clever. Those who simply and by stupid luck were born rich and powerful, in the right family, at the right time, in the right place. Those that (although they – as the only ones – will never see that) got their status, their wealth and their (apparently!) care-free life not by effort, but by pure luck.
As most human emotions envy is nothing wrong at all, but holds a function:
It’s a signal from your subconsciousness, that something is wrong here, that you seeing something unjust.
Of course the signal can be wrong, but often it is also right, because – please don’t tell your kids – life is indeed unjust.
There was never full justice in the world, there is not today (not even in your country, company, family) and there probably never will be full justice in the future. I don’t like it, but that is the way it is.
On the other hand, too much envy is certainly not helpful, so today I have something for your comfort:
One of my favorite “heroes” from Greek mythology and a “role model for the modern middle-class employee” (woodpecker interpretation 🙂 ):
As you might know, Prometheus was the guy who stole the fire from the gods and brought it to humankind.
In the Woodpecker modern interpretation:
Prometheus was the anti-authoritarian self-made man, who empowered himself, built his life from scratch without the help of a devine birth and then took what needed to be taken from the powerful without caring too much about their permission (in fact no harm done, of course the gods still have their own fire too, but they just wanted to keep it all for themselves). And he had his pride about his self-empowerment and about all he had accomplished HIMSELF despite his low born start.
To better understand, read my favorite poem from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Simply replace “Zeus”/“the gods” by the “rich and the powerful born class” and “Prometheus” by yourself or “the self-made-man”.
You will see how Prometheus/you can be proud about the house he built on his own and in fact is envied by the gods for the warmth of his hearth. A warmth that they will be able to enjoy.
You will see that the gods/the rich born are poor in a sense that they all depend on the mercy of the people plus owe their whole status to our all masters: time and fate.
You will see that Prometheus/you overcomes disappointment, empowers himself and decides on his own to be as happy as the gods/the rich&powerful, and you can be as well.
You will understand that you, the self-made man/woman, have sources of happiness at your hand that the rich born will never know.
That is independence.
That is real comfort.
That will shield you and make you an upright and self-confident person, no matter where you stand on the “social ladder” of your country.
What a fantastic piece of art by Goethe!
Bedecke deinen Himmel, Zeus,
Und übe, Knaben gleich,
Der Disteln köpft,
An Eichen dich und Bergeshöh’n!
Mußt mir meine Erde
Doch lassen steh’n,
Und meine Hütte,
Die du nicht gebaut,
Und meinen Herd,
Um dessen Glut
Du mich beneidest.
Ich kenne nichts Ärmeres
Unter der Sonn’ als euch Götter!
Ihr nähret kümmerlich
Und darbtet, wären
Nicht Kinder und Bettler
Da ich ein Kind war,
Nicht wußte, wo aus, wo ein,
Kehrt’ ich mein verirrtes Auge
Zur Sonne, als wenn drüber wär
Ein Ohr zu hören meine Klage,
Ein Herz wie meins,
Sich des Bedrängten zu erbarmen.
Wer half mir
Wider der Titanen Übermut?
Wer rettete vom Tode mich,
Hast du’s nicht alles selbst vollendet,
Heilig glühend Herz?
Und glühtest, jung und gut,
Dem Schlafenden dadroben?
Ich dich ehren? Wofür?
Hast du die Schmerzen gelindert
Je des Beladenen?
Hast du die Tränen gestillet
Je des Geängsteten?
Hat nicht mich zum Manne geschmiedet
Die allmächtige Zeit
Und das ewige Schicksal,
Meine Herren und deine?
Wähntest du etwa,
Ich sollte das Leben hassen,
In Wüsten fliehn,
Weil nicht alle Knabenmorgen-
Hier sitz’ ich, forme Menschen
Nach meinem Bilde,
Ein Geschlecht, das mir gleich sei,
Zu leiden, weinen,
Genießen und zu freuen sich,
Und dein nicht zu achten,
(side note: Prometheus was harshly punished by the gods for his theft, thus be a bit careful with the “stealing” part 😉 )