Have you had unexplained pangs of jealousy that just make your stomach curdle because it just doesn't make sense? Perhaps, you see the teen ager driving the nice little sports car as you drive down the street in a mini-van. Maybe it's the co-worker who got a promotion. It might be the guy walking into the club with a beautiful blonde bombshell on his arm. It feels like a punch in the stomach as you think, "Why do they get that? Why can't I have it?" It doesn't make sense because the sports car wouldn't be practical to haul around your five kids, the promotion would mean working more hours for not much of a pay raise, and the blonde is just out of your league anyway.
Then why does it drive you crazy sometimes when someone has something that you desire but don't need? Do we feel like you are getting slighted because someone is getting something that you aren't? There is not doubt that jealous and envy are bad. Envy is defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as "the sadness at the sight of another's goods and the immoderate desire to have them for oneself. It is a capital sin." (2553, CCC)
Envy really gets bad when it's left unchecked. It is the cause of many brutal crimes. People get killed and robbed because of envy. People get stuff stolen because others want what they have. St. Augustine defines envy as "the diabolical sin." He continues saying that "from envy are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbor and displeasure caused by his prosperity." (2539 CCC) Detraction and calumny, by the way, putting someone down or false and slanderous statements---you know--talking trash and gossip.
I hate the feeling because it's there but it just doesn't make sense to me. I have everything I really need in life. I have an amazing wife, great kids, wonderful friends, a job I love. I am darn lucky to have the life that I do. In reality--even though I don't deserve all of that stuff--people should be jealous of me. But it still strikes me. I'll see an officer who works in office with a take home car. I don't get a take home car so I think ill of the person, "What the heck do they get a take home car--it's not like they are going to get called out in the middle of the night!"
Where does it get me? No where really. It causes hard feelings and why? Heck, I'd accept a take home car if they gave it to me. But since I don't get one, I don't want the other guy to have one even though I don't need it.
How do you combat envy? You can get advice from the Catechism where it says that, "Envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity. The baptized person should struggle against it by exercising good will. Envy often comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility." (2540 CCC)
So, just like every other vice--the combat it you practice the opposite virtue. So, instead of being jealous and trying to make things difficult for the person, you treat them with kindness--even if it's the last thing you want to do. Instead of saying mean things and lies about someone you show humility and realize that maybe they deserve that more than you.
Sigh---it's difficult for me. Fortunately for me, I'm already pretty humble. In fact, I'm one of the most humble people I know. Heck, I bet you wish you were as humble as me!