Envy — an unattractive and unsettling emotion — but admit it: We all feel it from time to time.

It’s hard not to. Times are tough and those “things” that perhaps we yearn for can sometimes come so easily to others. And I’m not just talking about material goods, either.

At this time of year, when the weather appears to be turning pleasant and everyone seems to be outside, it can be hard for some people. It happened to me before I had my children: Spring came and all the pregnant women were out walking, and all the new moms were out pushing their strollers — I was very envious because they were already in the phase of life that I was still waiting for.

And although I was confident my time would come, my emotions got the better of me.

In the spring, all the fancy cars come out of winter hibernation, as do the tricked-out motorcycles, and the serious cyclists with their fully-loaded racing bikes. For somebody who relies on public transportation, and who can’t afford these luxuries, all those wheels can stir up feelings of resentment.

Envy is one of those nasty feelings that preys on your vulnerability and weak areas. So, if you’re single and don’t wish to be, seeing happy loving couples canoodling on the streets can irritate you.

One woman recently told me how she was desperately awaiting a paycheque so she could pay off her Visa. She had maxed out on some necessary purchases. Meantime, a more affluent friend of hers mentioned her search for a new spring purse. Her budget for the purse could have covered half this woman’s Visa bill!

Envy? You bet she felt it! She definitely had to struggle not to show it.

But though it may sound trite, it’s true that there will always be those more fortunate, and those less fortunate than ourselves. We see great diversity and great disparity all around us every day. Diversity is positive — we learn to appreciate the difference in others and to gain from others. But the disparity is something else. On the same street where someone is tearing down a decent house to build one twice as big, a homeless guy sifts through the trash for empty cans.

So envy is almost a ridiculous feeling when you consider who really has a reason for it and who doesn’t. When that woman with the Visa bill agitates herself because money doesn’t come as easily as to those who can afford designer purses, how should the single mom feel when she can’t afford fresh fruit and vegetables for her kids?

We need inner strength to fight off those negative feelings of envy. We need to set realistic goals and be proud of ourselves when we achieve them. After all, envy knows no bounds: Becoming a millionaire is no longer the high water mark for financial success.

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