Ah, jealousy. One of the most human of emotions that exists in our world – equally, one of the least enjoyable to experience. It’s that feeling of wanting what your friend has, of feeling left behind, of wishing you had somebody else’s life. Not particularly fun. And with so many religions and philosophies encouraging us to abandon and move beyond jealousy, it definitely would appear to be a goal worthy of pursuit. But, as you probably know, letting go of jealousy isn’t as easy as it sounds at first, especially when everyone apart from you seems to have everything. That said, it is very doable, and in this article, I want to give you guys a little food for thought as to how you might move beyond jealousy, too.
Idea 1: Remembering what you have
I’ll start with probably the most well-known (…& cliche??) of suggestions: remembering what you already have. The truth is, for every thing somebody else has that you wish you had, you likely have something that they don’t. Do you have a good relationship with your parents? Lots of good friends? The freedom to go or buy whatever you want? There’s almost definitely one thing (or many more) that you’re lucky to have, and when you start to think about it, you could probably make a whole list of circumstances, people and objects you’re fortunate to call a part of your life. Of course, anyone reading this article is also fortunate to have access to a phone or computer and the internet. Yeah… maybe things really aren’t so bad after all!
The only other thing I want to say here is that you should NOT feel guilty for feeling jealousy despite everything you do have. I think this is important; all you’re doing here is adding guilt to jealousy, and who wants two negative emotions at the same time. So the next time you feel jealous, count your blessings, but make sure to cut yourself some slack for feeling that way. It happens to the best of us.
Idea 2: Appraising events differently
Here’s where it starts to get more fun (hopefully). I’m sure you’ve heard of the idea that it’s not outside circumstances themselves that dictate your emotions, but rather the way you interpret the events around you. This is powerful, since it means that with enough awareness and practice, you can start to take more control of your own emotions.
For example, let’s say your college friend just called to share that she got a promotion at work – she’s now making nearly double as much money as you are. Here are two different viewpoints you could choose to adopt.
- [Externally] That’s great! Congrats!
[Internally] I can’t believe this. It’s so unfair that even though we had the same education, she’s now going to be way richer than I am.
- [Externally] That’s great! Congrats!
[Internally] I do wish I was making as much as she is. But hey, I guess I’ll now have way more free time to spend with friends and family than she does.
You can see how the first viewpoint is inhibiting, while the second is empowering. I’m not saying consciously choosing your thoughts this way is as straightforward as it looks, but with practice, imagine how beneficial it can be against negative emotions like jealousy. You get to choose whether to have those emotions or not.
Idea 3: Taking life less seriously & enjoying “the game”
To quote one of my favorite thinkers ever, Alan Watts:
Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the Gods made for fun.Alan Watts
Like most good sayings, you can imagine that this one is also open to interpretation. To me, though, it really speaks to what we’ve been talking about throughout this article. Everything in this life is constantly changing and everyone’s life is different. In that case, why get jealous if your best friend is now married and you’re still not? Or if your friend group went out while you were sick? No situation as it is this moment – not yours, your friends’, mine – is going to be the same a week from now. So why fret about the temporary, especially when jealousy has the potential to damage relationships with the ones you love in the long run?
Try taking life less seriously, and you might even start to enjoy the ups and downs (that is, your mind’s interpretations!) that you will inevitably face. And I’m certain that your loved ones will feel very grateful to you knowing that you can be genuinely happy for their achievements.
So there you have it! A short little guide for tackling the pesky but oh-so-human feeling of jealousy. Please do add suggestions of your own in the comments, I’d love to hear them!
That’s all from me today.