Rotten Inspiration

I'm currently getting over a miserable cold that was probably not really all that bad but I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to being sick. I keep telling myself to buck up and practice being a peppy sick person because it's a skill I'd like to have in case I ever develop a serious illness. (I have a fear of being the sort of patient that nurses hate, even more so because my husband works in the hospital and I don't want them to feel sorry for him for having a grouchy wife.) Apparently the good people that make Halls cough drops want to help me in my quest to be a peppier sick person, because they've started adding little motivational sayings to their cough drop wrappers. Unfortunately, motivational sayings don't seem to be quite their thing, so mostly they come across as either weird like "Let us hear your battle cry!" or maybe a little bit like a drill sergeant at boot camp yelling "Buckle down! Chin up! March forth! C'mon, what are you, slackers?"

Photo by Megan Morris via Flickr

But I just unwrapped my latest cough drop and it's telling me to "Inspire envy." And can I just tell you all, I am SO OVER that message? I'm not perfect. There are times I'm going to still struggle with envy. Not just wishful thinking, but that feeling that worms its way into the heart and says "You would be happier if..." (Currently I'm envying people who live within walking distance of the public library, which I will freely admit is probably an odd thing to envy but it is 100% true.)

But I'm over the message that if I am more, it means that someone else is less. (And, of course, the idea that I am less if someone else is more.)

I'm over the message that the things I do should be done with the end goal of making others wish they were me.

I'm over the idea that envy is a good thing. I'm at my least happy when I give in to the temptation to envy someone else. And while we all are responsible for our own reactions, I don't want my goal to be to create that feeling in someone else.

I'm over the idea that we need to march through life with our measuring sticks, always comparing, always placing rankings on ourselves, our families, all those with whom we come in contact. That somehow accumulation of stuff, or looks, or a million blog hits a day makes a person better, someone we should envy. Sure, maybe the people at Halls really mean they want people to envy my sparkling personality, but I'd rather people just enjoyed it. (I'm not sure my personality can be said to sparkle, but if it does, please don't envy it, just call me up for coffee instead because I'd a million times rather get to know you than have you envy me.)

My blog might stay tiny. I might never write a published book, let alone a best seller. But if I do? I don't want to inspire envy. It's the opposite of everything that I want to inspire.

I want to inspire dreams. For every person who's secretly wished they could do something, I want to inspire them to try. To find their own unique voice in the world and sing it out with all their might.

I want to inspire hope. For every person stumbling through the world in darkness, every person who feels alone, I want to say "Me too, but there's a light and I'll walk towards it with you."

I want to inspire action. I'm not an activist of any sort, and I know that there are a million things I could be doing to make the world a better place in some tiny way. I want to learn how to find those ways and I want to inspire others to find them too.

I want to inspire kindness. Because in a world of sharp divides, where we are told we are either the enviable or the one who should envy, we need kindness to wear away the sharp edges, to remind us to live in love towards every person, every day.

I'd be honored to hear that I inspired someone to make a change. But not towards envy. Sorry, cough drop people, but that's one inspiration that would leave me speechless.

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30 (ESV)


  1. I hear you on the envy of people who live within walking distance of a public library. Mind you, since leaving home I've almost always (except for those few months in Mt. Eaton and once when the closest library closed for renovations for a year) been within walking distance of one (my walking distance anyhow). But I still envy people who live closer, or close to a better library. An odd thing to envy? Apparently not for some folks :)

    Excellent post as always. I love how you can draw insight from simple silly things like 'inspiring' cough drops.

    1. :) Thanks! I suppose it comes from growing up without a library in town so a trip to the library was always like the ultimate treat.

    2. Sounds about right to me.

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