Envy: “A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.”
It’s okay to feel it.
I think we have all felt green with envy at some point in our lives. It took me a lifetime to be able to identify and admit when I was feeling green, as there was so much shame I associated with it. I believed that ever feeling that way made me a bad person.
Feeling envious of someone else, whether for their accomplishments or possessions, makes you human. That’s all.
As loaded as the emotion may be, feeling envious is a part of the human experience. As with any other emotion we perceive to be negative, what matters is what you learn from it and how you act on it. The difference lies in whether we allow envy, and the guilt we might associate with it, to take control, or whether we turn it into a productive learning experience.
Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own. – Harold Coffin
When the emotion arises, ask yourself why are you feeling envious. Being inquisitive about your own emotions will allow you to have a deeper understanding of yourself and your desires. Ignoring envy by numbing it out or convincing yourself you’re too good to feel that way is counterproductive. Learn to listen to what it’s trying to tell you. As they say, the truth will set you free.
All envy is proportionate to desire; we are uneasy at the attainments of another, according as we think our own happiness would be advanced by the addition of that which he withholds from us. – Samuel Johnson
Once you uncover the hidden meaning behind it (Hmmm, maybe I do want to pursue my hobby full-time! or I want to be in the best shape that I can be), ask yourself what you’re going to do to channel that energy more productively and achieve what you want. In the end, envy needs to fall by the wayside. You can’t change or control other people. And when you focus on yourself, you won’t want to anyway.
Envy is a symptom of lack of appreciation of our own uniqueness and self worth. Each of us has something to give that no one else has. – unknown
Maybe a big part of the solution lies in counting your blessings and avoiding comparison. Social media has allowed us to have access to (what we think is) other people’s lives – people we otherwise would not have been able to see or compare ourselves to. Learn to be thankful for the things you do have, and take what you see with a grain of salt. Everyone experiences difficulties, not matter what it may look like. Practicing empathy towards yourself and others can mitigate any nasties you might feel from uncontrolled envy.
No one can have all he wants, but a man can refrain from wanting what he has not, and cheerfully make the best of a bird in the hand. – Seneca
So let yourself feel the full range of emotions while you’re in this human body of yours. Learn from it, grow from it, and do the best with what you have.
How do you deal with the green-eyed monster? I’d love to know.