Envy versus Admiration

Admiration and envy are two similar motivational forces, although the former allows us to see ourselves and our goals more clearly than the latter.

That’s it.

What? You were expecting a longer post?

Ok, fine. Here’s a link to a couple of other blog posts on some studies done comparing the neurological effects of envy, admiration, schadenfreude and compassion:



Not sure if they got the envy part operationalized 100% correctly in all those experiments… seems like it might be more about “resentment” ..but maybe that’s the point. I do like that quote from Søren Kierkegaard, Admiration is happy self-surrender; envy is unhappy self-assertion.”

Also, this one: What we admire shapes us. What we envy entraps us.” ..attributed to a Banjaran on an amusing little Yahoo! Answers discussion thread.

In some cases, it seems to me that envy is a form of (or reaction to) admiration, consciously or unconsciously twisted around by an individual in way that generates frustration and resentment for them… and in other cases, admiration is an individual’s conscious “emptying-out” of envy, so that they can observe — and even aspire — something or someone that they appreciate or desire without frustration or resentment.

Jealousy is a zero-sum view of success. Envy drives some strange, counter-productive behaviors. Usually the targets of envy are puzzled by the attacks of their would-be admirers. Envy is a self-centered form of admiration.

Admiration, left untainted by envy, seems to be a crucial component of learned optimism… a door-opener for modelling behaviors and outcomes that are desirable for us.

See? Wasn’t it better when I kept the blog post short and sweet?

How about this:

“Do not despise anyone. Do not regard anything as impossible. There is no one without his hour. There is no thing without its place.” – Ben Azzai


About danspira

My blog is at: http://danspira.com. My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on April 30, 2011, in Learning and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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