New AOV Episode: Envy/Contentment

We released our 26th episode! HAPPY OFFICIAL ONE YEAR PODIVERSARY TO US.

But I already celebrated that enough Tuesday. What I’m thinking about today is how our overall emotional experiences may shift as we age, particularly as regarding envy.

As I mentioned in our AOV blog post on Envy/Contentment, there are four kinds of envy. One of the features distinguishing the types of envy from one another is the obtainability of the good desired. If our envy is produced by a good we ultimately believe we can’t get, then we’re more likely to feel Inert or Spiteful envy. (Check out Dr. Protasi’s graph in the post; it’s cool.)

This idea of “possible goods” intrigues me. As we get older, our possibilities solidify into certainties. We settle into careers. We get married. We have kids, we buy houses, we start saving for retirement, we make plans to take care of ailing parents. It’s a different approach to life than our young years where our experience of the world is characterized by exploration. By newness and uncertainty. In the exploratory stage, everything seems open. We get to choose where we go (for the most part) and more goods seem more available to us than later in life.

Perhaps when we are young we are more prone to Aggressive or Emulative Envy. Perhaps when we are older we are more prone to Spiteful or Inert Envy and .

If this makes sense, it also means that as we age we are more prone to different kinds of Contentment, as well. Or perhaps it just means we experience contentment differently. The contentment we need to pursue as youngin’s is a stillness and peace in the midst of general, global uncertainty about the future. It’s perhaps more likely to be a contentment that chooses not to make any one goal or good feature too prominent in our assessment of what makes our lives worth living.

As we age, the contentment we need to pursue is a stillness or peace with what life has given us and with what doors are now closed to us. It’s a contentment in the defined, in the certain, a contentment with the way our life is now shaped and may be shaped for a while yet.

Of course, both young and old have potential for all kinds of envy and contentment. These are not varieties of emotions that are confined to each age, and everyone’s life has different, unique patterns of “fixed” and “open.” (Plus, the kinds of goods we desire certainly changes.) But I think it’s interesting to think about what large themes might be shaping our emotional lives, as a way to explore what we’re feeling in the moment and how we can shape our emotional lives to be more eudaimonia-conducive than not.

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