All About Envy
Does someone else's fruit tree have more fruit than yours?
“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” Proverbs 14:30
“Nothing is as obnoxious as other people's luck.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Some folks rail against other folks, because other folks have what some folks would be glad of.” Henry Fielding
Are You Jealous or Just Envious?
Even though people tend to utilize the two terms as if they are the same, jealousy and envy are not the same. Jealousy is more about the fear of losing something or someone. As a result, jealousy is often associated with a love relationship or a close relationship in which one party feels threatened that he/she will lose a loved one to another person or interest. As a child, you might be jealous that your sibling is getting more attention from your mom than yourself and feel jealous. Married individuals might feel jealous when their spouses spend time with others.
Envy has to do with resentment towards someone else for having something or a quality that you wish to have for yourself. Envy often involves rivals and competition. A person might feel envious that their co-worker got a prime assignment or praise at a board meeting. You might feel envy at your neighbor’s new car and wish you were the one with a new car.
Jealousy has taken on broader meanings over time. Nowadays, people often speak of being jealous and wanting someone else’s things or life as well as in relation to protecting a relationship ~ using jealousy to mean both envy and actual jealousy. The word is not interchangeable in reverse ~ or it is a little awkward. You wouldn’t necessarily say that you were envious when referring to protecting your marriage. In general, an easy way to tell the difference is that you are jealous of something that you want to keep for yourself and envious of something you don’t have.
Dangers of Envy
- You focus on others instead of yourself. As a result, you no longer have an appreciation of your own accomplishments and qualities. You can lose your own self-worth.
- Constant comparisons cause us to lose our own unique qualities that make us who we are. You can lose sight of your true ambitions, passions and life mission.
- You develop ungratefulness for what you have. Your life becomes a constant cycle of miserable unhappiness characterized by always labeling yourself as never good enough.
- Envy is deep resentment. It ruins personal relationships and working relationships, because an envious person can never be happy for someone else’s accomplishments. Envious people might even lash out at the persons they are envious of with harsh criticisms or worse because they want so badly what the other person has and are so overcome with negativity that they want to inflict harm and cause suffering.
Create Your Own Story
Turn that Envy Upside Down
There is an up side to envy. Envy can be used as a positive motivator to success. You can use incidents when you are feeling envy as opportunities to find out how a particular person got so successful, find inspiration in their story and forge your own path. You can examine what you can do next time to do better on an assignment or project and ask advice from someone you admire. Competition doesn’t have to be negative. Competition can be a powerful motivator. Learn from those better than yourself, surround yourself with successful people so that you can improve your own craft and strive to be where you want to be in life.
An interesting thing happens when you stop being envious and start learning more from the people you are envious of and take the time to get to know them rather than judge. You might find out that these people you thought were so great have their own faults, troubles and struggles. You find out people aren’t good at everything. You might actually be better at something than someone else. You might have a unique talent and ability that can be a real asset to others. You start to find yourself when you stop comparing yourself to others.