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Few people would argue that jealousy and envy are good things. Both emotions rob you of joy and connection with other people because they inherently foster division by creating a longing for something you might not have.
And while jealousy and envy are often used interchangeably, they are not the same.
Envy is an emotion you feel when you desire a quality or thing that another person has. That quality may be intellectual, spiritual, or physical.
An unhappy person might be envious of their friend who appears to be happy and carefree, without worry or stress. A person lacking in creativity may envy the beautiful art that an artist creates, wishing for the same kind of talent.
When it comes to being envious of things, it often boils down to money. People are regularly envious of those who have the money for nice cars, posh homes, or designer clothes.
Jealousy occurs when something that we already have is threatened by another person. A person may feel jealous of their partner spending time with a good-looking friend, for example. Jealousy often carries with it a hint of betrayal and anger: “How could my loved one do that to me!?”
Separating jealousy and envy can be difficult, not only because people use them interchangeably but because they are often companions. A romantic partner giving attention to an attractive person can make a person feel threatened, inadequate, and insecure, which is where envy comes from. They may be asking questions like, “Why can’t I be better looking? Why can’t I be more charismatic?”
That reaction is more about the relationship the person has with themselves rather than their partner’s actions. A person secure in their relationship wouldn’t necessarily have those kinds of thoughts.
Jealousy and envy are poisonous to relationships and peace of mind. They will destroy everything they touch. The good news is that they can be worked on! Envy is often the root of jealousy, so we will focus on how to stop being envious of others.
Let’s look at some tips.
1. Practice gratitude.
Gratitude is such a powerful tool for cultivating loving acceptance of oneself and life.
Envy is often rooted in a desire for more, wanting the things that we don’t have. The more time we spend dwelling on what we don’t have and what we want, the less time we spend practicing simple gratitude for the things that we do.
That’s going to mean different things to different people.
Some people already have an abundance of things and qualities but are envious of those who have more. These people need only stop to truly appreciate all the good that already exists in their lives.
But what about when you’re struggling in life? Well, that is the time when we need gratitude the most.
“How can I be grateful when I have so many problems?” To do that, it helps to look at the things you have, no matter how imperfect they are.
Your car might be on its last legs but it still gets you from A to B, your friends may not be the greatest of people but they still provide companionship, rice and beans get old after awhile but they keep your belly full.
And you are still here, still able to work toward better things for your life – that’s always something to be grateful for.
Once you can find gratitude, you will have an incredible tool for defusing your own negative feelings, no matter how low you are.
2. Stop comparing your life to others.
Earlier, we gave a few examples of envy – an unhappy person envying a happy person, a person who doesn’t feel creative envying the artist, and a person with no money envying someone with wealth.
Thing is, these comparisons rarely represent the total and whole truth of the situation.
A person walking around with a smile on their face does not mean they are happy. People are not that simple. It means that they want to project an image of positivity and happiness to the rest of the world.
Plenty of miserable people are socially competent and care enough to mask their own pain with a smile. You have no idea what’s behind that person’s smile.
Being creative is weird. People regularly tell you that they wish they had the talent or the skill but always ignore you when you tell them it’s not some divine gift; it’s the result of a lot of hard work and practice.
Anyone could be creative if they took the time to really embrace a creative interest and work on developing the skills. And that’s not limited to just writing, drawing, or painting! It also includes things like a well-engineered machine, where each part is precisely serving its purpose because someone skilled with numbers crafted it to be that way.
Money is a tricky one. It generally comes with an additional price tag attached to it, usually in the form of hard work or interest payments of items bought with credit.
Ever heard of “golden handcuffs?” That’s when you get a high-paying job, buy a fancy house, a nice car, and craft a lifestyle that demands you make just as much, if not more. You are now handcuffed to that job to maintain your lifestyle, whether you want to be or not, unless you want to completely upend your life.
Never compare your life to the lives of others. You can never know what they are carrying or sacrificing to have what they have.
3. Spend less time with envious people.
The people you spend time with have a massive influence over your interests, wants, and desires.
Suppose you hang around people that are always in competition. In that case, you are going to find yourself swept up into that competition. That includes envy.
Other people are the worst for facilitating and fueling those negative feelings. “You gotta have a better house! A more expensive car! Better clothes! You have to prove to these other people that you’ve got it!”
Why? The only people that really care are other people in that same competition. So why even bother hanging out with those people when all it’s going to do is feed your insecurity, cause you to feel like you’re not good enough, and make you feel like you need to compete.
Audit your closest circles. Spend less time with people who are on that never-ending treadmill.
4. Learn to celebrate the success of others.
An easy way to defuse envy is to find genuine happiness in the success of other people.
Life doesn’t need to be a competition. Just because someone wins doesn’t necessarily mean that you lose. And even if you lose, there are always more opportunities to work toward what you want and find your own success.
Don’t focus on what you feel anyone deserves or doesn’t deserve. Instead, just focus on their joy, smile brightly, and celebrate with them.
Smiling naturally improves our mood by stimulating endorphin production, so you can try to build a link between the positive experience and happiness that way.
5. Get clear on what you are really envious of.
Use your envy as a source of guidance to better understand what you really want to achieve.
Say you are envious of your colleague Sue because she always seems so confident. But when you look closer, the thing that you really wish you could do as well as her is put on engaging and effective presentations to your boss or clients. That has as much to do with planning, practice, and getting feedback from others as it does confidence.
Or maybe you envy your friend Chris because he lives in a large house in a nice neighborhood. Yet, when you examine that envy, it’s actually the lifestyle the house affords him that you want. Perhaps it’s got countryside walks on the doorstep or the garden is great for entertaining guests. You might be able to find these same things with a much smaller house that you can afford.
Try to remove the person from the equation and get specific about what things or qualities it is that you wish you had.
6. Get busy improving yourself and your life.
Are you devoting enough time and energy to building the life that you want? It’s challenging to find the time to be in other peoples’ business when you are focused on what you need to be doing for yourself, to get what you want out of life.
If you have time to be envious, you surely have time to work on the parts of yourself that make you feel insecure and envious of others.
There are a lot of ways you can go about that. It might be that you need therapy to deal with the issues that are popping up around your insecurities.
Maybe it’s a matter of lifestyle change that you’re looking for. Perhaps a different job? Or going back to college to get a better job? Eating healthier? Exercising more?
Whatever it is, do it. Make plans, set goals, find the motivation to change your life in the ways that you want.
7. Consume less media and social media.
Media creates many unrealistic perceptions about life. It’s not just marketing and advertising that does it either. Plenty of television shows create unrealistic expectations of work, play, and relationships that inexperienced people may take as truth.
One of the more common tropes is having a huge circle of friends where everyone gets together regularly. In reality, life is busy. People have families, jobs, and responsibilities. Relationships get harder to maintain because both parties have to dedicate time and energy to keep that relationship alive.
Marketing and advertising are no better. FOMO, or “Fear Of Missing Out,” is a common way to foster desire and urgency.
“You need this! Look at how happy all of these people are! Don’t you want to be happy? Buy our product and/or service! It’s the latest, greatest, newest, hottest thing!”
It’s a way that marketers leverage your ego and insecurity against you.
And social media is usually just a carefully curated highlight reel of a person’s life. Few people are posting about what they don’t have or their life not going well.
And those that do, well, it’s sometimes hard to take those people seriously. They might be the type who are always involved in drama of their own making or are socially inept enough to not realize it’s a bad idea to air their dirty laundry on a public platform.
Less media is generally a net positive, though there are some quality resources out there for helping you find your way through particular problems.
8. Don’t live your life as a competition.
Life is what you make it. If you turn it into a competition, then it will be a competition.
You don’t have to compete with anyone other than yourself to be a better person than you were yesterday.
And, actually, though you can be content with what you have, it’s not necessarily right to say or think that we are just fine as we are. In some circumstances, that becomes a toxic mindset that causes people to stagnate when they still have growing to do.
Instead, you want to assess the different areas of your life. Where do you feel happy? Unhappy? What do you want to improve on? And most importantly – why do you want to improve?
Remember: this is for you because you deserve the right to work for the kind of life that you want, not to compete with other people.
Competition can be okay in limited and controlled doses. But if you find that you struggle with envy for what other people have, you can strip those feelings of their power by just not playing that game.
Remember that you are working on your own goals for yourself. It doesn’t matter how you measure up to anyone else, regardless of how other people want to make you feel.
Is envy affecting your mental well-being in a big way? Still not sure how to deal with it? Speak to a therapist today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.
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- How To Appreciate What You Have: 10 No Bullsh*t Tips!
- How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
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- 16 Things Money Can’t Buy (No Matter How Rich You Are)
- How To Be Proud Of Yourself: 8 No Bullsh*t Tips!
- 7 Reasons To Shift From A Scarcity Mindset To An Abundance Mindset