Everyone feels it. Envy is universal. I can trace my first feelings of envy to my childhood. Two of my older brothers were athletic stars. My sisters were beautiful, and I was the freckled faced kid who wanted to shine like my brothers and sisters. I had a bad case of sibling envy. Envy is simply comparing yourself to the snapshot life of someone else.
As a child I measured my looks against the beauty of my sisters. I felt inferior and made them superior. I felt lacking of the physical abilities of my brother’s superior abilities. It was on the inside and I blamed it on the outside. I was too young to understand.
Envy centers on feelings of not enough, resentment, doubt, scarcity, and longing. I can’t say that I didn’t feel doubt about my place as I grew up. However, the anguish I felt within was much worse.
People will tell you that you shouldn’t be jealous; that envy stems from personal insecurity. They will be right, but they will also make you feel bad about yourself for feeling envious. Everyone has insecurities. If you think you’re doing everything right one hundred percent of the time, then you are insane. Seriously, go see someone about that. Go! Now! For the rest of us? Insecurity, doubt, and the inevitable creeping in of envy is simply a part of evolving and growing as a person.
I was blessed with a career that provided opportunities to create new products and processes in manufacturing. I was called upon to create solutions where only problems existed. I simply did not have many of the solutions. I did, however, recognize the talent, wisdom and creativity others had that were envious, each with talent that exceed my own in some way. By gathering these talented people around me, we made magic things. I am not the best looking, the wealthiest, the one having all the answers. I did not get the credit for the magic we created. What I was blessed with is finding examples, talent and creative that help us find solutions. I enjoyed being immersed in groups of envious talents and visionaries. I made envy work toward my goals.
Today, I’m an old, elderly fella with great children, each who are superior people who have exceeded my abilities as parents and skills. All within my family are good friends now. We have each other’s back. Over the years, as I’ve matured, I’ve found a more satisfying emotion in life, and cheer those who have skills, beauty, physical abilities, and net worth however they got there.
The truth is: envy is healthy to a certain extent. It can be counterproductive to stew needlessly in jealousy and to let envy dictate your life, but a healthy dose of it that will give you something nothing else can: an indication of what you really desire. There is no better way to wake up to latent desires than to be forced to face them in the form of envy, because if someone else is living an aspect of a life you desire, why can’t you? Sure, there is useless jealousy rooted in a masochistic flavor of self-hate, but even that envy is worth something: it will force you to reexamine your values and what you think keeps you from peace, joy, love, happiness, fulfillment.
It used to be that only my siblings entered the group who lived better than myself. Now, if you choose, it’s easy to find someone taller, richer, more successful, better liked, with more followers, online friends, connections and endorsements. And it is certain to be someone less deserving than me. This is a truth for all of us to face without resentment.
It’s not natural to be constantly stressed, upset, reactive, envious, and fearful. It’s just as easy to be brave, courageous, and bold. I’m at the point in my life that I don’t allow the success of others to hold me back from the good portions of life I’m blessed with.
If you have uncontrollable jealousy toward celebrities and you are not a celebrity, nor are you inclined to put effort into becoming one, then it would help you to examine yourself and your beliefs about what constitutes a beautiful and big life… for you. Likely, you have some belief milling about in your mind that says wealth, fame, and status makes a person happier. In the end analysis, believe this truth. Wealth, fame, and status does not create happiness. While these certainly create opportunities, they also create stress.
Envy that is centered around an attainable desire provides an incredible signal that there is an opportunity to quickly see the gap between what you’re doing right now and what you still aspire to do in the future.
Want what you have.
Aristotle wrote, “Envy is pain at the good fortune of others.” When I feel centered and I’m coming from a place of love, I’m pleased for the success of others. It is an easy task to remind myself that life isn’t meaningful because of what we have, it’s meaningful because of who we are. My happiness doesn’t depend on how well I bowl, my achievements, or my looks. My happiness has more to do with who I am, and serving others.
Be grateful for your blessings.
When we are envious of others, we discount what we do have—intrinsic worth, love, family, friends, and more! We only need to spend our time reveling in the joy of what we have. In that space there is no need for greed.
Toot your own horn.
Bolster yourself. Be bold. Buy yourself a treat. Take yourself out to dinner. Create good times for yourself by celebrating who you are and what you do for others.
Put away your measuring stick.
O our fears fit under these three: I am not enough. I don’t do enough. I don’t have enough. To eliminate fear, we need to believe that, “I am enough. I have enough. I do enough!” As we adopt these as our core beliefs, comparison fall off our radar.
Don’t get distracted.
If my ego can convince me that others are winning and I am losing, I have an excuse for why I don’t have to try or work hard. Comparisons are distractions. I work on things I enjoy, on moments I can share knowledge with those hungry for answers, and on building a worthy life.
Talk to a friend, coach, or therapist.
If you struggle with envy, seek help and learn how to increase your self-confidence and self-worth.
Envy is something we all feel but we seldom admit it or talk about it. We can’t erase what we can’t face. If there are achievements awarded to others that you find exasperating, it’s not going away anytime soon.
Realize it’s a story.
When I ever found myself envious, I felt cheated because I falsely believed that the other person’s possessions or achievements overshadow mine. It’s a harmful story!
It is not unusual to hear complaints from those envious of the awards given to others. Whenever someone is acknowledged in a positive light, you can find someone anxious to negative remarks belittling of them. Blowing out the other person’s candle will not make theirs shine brighter.
When I’m most content, I know that we’re all connected, and that together, we can all use our individual gifts and talents to help heal the world. When I see us all with the same mission, envy evaporates.
Envy is about fear. Fear that I’m not getting what’s mine. Fear that I’m being left behind. Fear that my work isn’t recognized as being as important as yours.
The best way to work through your fear is to take action. Choose to be more daring. It’s time to dig deep and connect to your inner genius. The magic lies within your own unique gifts, talents, and journey. When you create from your heart with a loving intention, your work becomes exceptional. Everyone gains.
Life isn’t about what you have and what I do not. Life isn’t about comparison and competition. When we rise above the external rewards and the personal battlefields of our minds, we discover the real meaning of it all.
Life is a journey of sharing, caring, and making the world a better place for everyone. The rest is just extra!
How do we respond when we encounter people who are more successful than we are?
Often, we imagine two paths: admiration and envy. Admiration is seen as a noble sentiment — we admire people for admiring others, detecting, in their admiration, a suggestion of taste and humility. Envy, by contrast, is thought to be inherently bad — a feeling of mortification and ill-will occasioned by the contemplation of superior advantages possessed by another, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. If they can, the envious person deprives others of their advantages, which to him is as desirable as it would be to secure the same advantages himself. If this passion is allowed to run riot it becomes fatal to all excellence, and even to the most useful exercise of exceptional skill. Envy, destructive envy, is found all the time by those wanting to take away the achievement and rewards of those who have recognition and financial reward. Those wanting to gain political leadership use destructive envy based on the recognition that there will always be a disparity between people who achieve, and those who don’t. This only drives toward mediocrity for the whole of society.
Is that really the case? Or can something frustrating and painful lead, almost in spite of itself, to positive ends—to even better ends, perhaps, than its more admired counterpart? Not all envy, we are learning, is created equal, and while some flavors leave nothing but a bad aftertaste others may inspire us to reach new heights of achievement.
Happiness is not found when you compare yourself to others.