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The Cost of Envy

The Cost of Envy

In our competitive environment today, it’s very easy to become envious of others’ successes. In the startup field, there are always a few phenomenal individuals who bloom quickly in their respective industries. I know of one that produced an app that quickly gained 20 million users, and another that won several outstanding business awards and garnered lots of attention from the media. Another small startup quickly grew to have 200 employees.

When a colleague outperforms you, a friend has a bustling social life, or when someone has a seemingly perfect relationship, it is easy to turn to resentment.[1] Most of the time, we don’t admit to these feelings, but the green-eyed monster lurks beneath the surface.

Whether or not we’d like to admit it, we’ve all felt jealous of someone else in the past.

Competitive and jealous feelings are an adaptive strategy. Humans are naturally inclined to compare to others because it was essential to outperform others in order to survive.[2]

While it seems natural to become envious or resentful of others, the feeling does more harm than good.

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Envy Costs Your Entire Mind

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    Envy interferes with people’s ability to think and act. Instead of working on attaining a high level of success, it focuses a person’s energy on what they lack.[3] An envious person is blind to their own progress since their only aim is to have what someone else already has. Without benchmarks for their progress, envious individuals quickly lose their motivation altogether.

    Those who worry about the final outcomes that others experience don’t think about the journey that their competitors had to take to reach that level of success.[4] Envious people are blind to their own strengths, and they’re unable to see the weaknesses of rivals.

    If you spend your whole life envying others because you think they are more efficient, more easily promoted, or better at solving problems, you’ll never become better. A person who wastes time worrying about others’ successes will not be able to see his or her own potential. Even when the envious person succeeds, he or she will likely still be so focused on the other person that there is little cause for celebration. The vicious cycle continues, and the envious individual never feels satisfied.

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    The reality is that there will always be someone smarter, better, or stronger. Enviousness condemns people to lead lives in which they constantly hope to have more. The green-eyed monster can never be satisfied. Intrinsic motivation for success yields better outcomes than resentment of others’ accomplishments.

    Cut the Chord and Stop Depending on Envy

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      I understand that even the most altruistic and optimistic among us may be tempted to envy others from time to time. When I face envy, I revisit my purpose and desire to succeed. I find motivation through grounding myself in my vision.

      When I first started Lifehack, it was a struggle. This was during a time when the web was becoming exponentially popular each day, and lots of new companies were popping up everywhere to fill in the space.  During that time I heard about a startup close by that quickly grew to fill a huge office. Their building had four floors, a fancy layout, a big canteen, and a rec room with a pool and a dartboard. Almost immediately I thought, “Wow! That sounds cool. I wish I could have those things too. It must be nice.” I was impressed, but started to have that uncomfortable feeling comparing myself to this suddenly successful startup.

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      I could have allowed this feeling to fester, but instead I turned inward to remember what was important to me. I reminded myself that I am most interested in creating an environment that boosts productivity. Anything that doesn’t increase productivity is superfluous, and could actually create distractions.

      Then, I thought about the goals of my work. I want to create a product that has a positive influence on others. It doesn’t matter whether my office space seems cool. What is truly important is how the work that we do in these offices can change lives.

      My team doesn’t need all those bells and whistles to create a fun work environment. My team members are fun and creative all on their own. If I spent all my time worrying about how big their offices were, I’d be upset with myself for not being able to offer them what that other startup has. I’d be too busy worrying about my feelings of guilt to push my mission forward.

      When I focus on my aspirations and work to improve myself, it brings me closer to achieving my mission. Knowing what I really want is the best motivation, and it wards off envy better than vain attempts to have what everyone else has. There’s just no reason for me to envy what others have because those things don’t align with my vision for this company.

      Freeing myself from the control of envy has liberated me from unrealistic and counter-productive desires. I can see the progress I’ve made as well as the areas in which I’d like to grow, and I allow my work to stand on its own merit instead of constantly comparing it to the work of others.

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      Not only is freeing oneself of envy critical for staying focused on what is important, it also makes life much more pleasant. Being able to applaud another person’s success without having a negative reaction has led to more opportunities and partnerships than if that success had created an adversarial relationship.

      When you start to covet the success of others, realign yourself with your vision, and recognize that we are all on a journey to become the greatest versions of ourselves.

      Featured photo credit: chibird via chibird.com

      Reference

      [1] Emotional Competency: Envy
      [2] Psychology Today: Envy: The Emotion Kept Secret
      [3] Huffpost: How to Keep Jealousy and Envy From Ruining Your Life
      [4] Fast Company: How To Turn Your Career Envy Into Motivation

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      Leon Ho

      Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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      Last Updated on June 4, 2020

      5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

      5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

      Cultivating a positive mental attitude starts with a realizationa realization that you’re not the only one who has struggled, who has survived, and who has started over again.

      You are not alone, and there is a way through the darkness. There is simple wisdom that you can rely on for help.

      Find support, but also learn self-care in how you treat yourself, which is what positivity is all about. That self-talk, that perception, and that attitude you choose change you and change those around you.

      In the New Stanford Study: A Positive Attitude Literally Makes Your Brain Better by Jessica Stillman, Stanford researchers studied how the brain was impacted in achievement and learning when one felt or was positive about a subject. The result? Outcomes were much more favorable for that student.[1]

      We do well in areas we are positive about. But what if we can choose to be positive about, well, anything? That would change everything.

      Positivity is not about just being happy, which is often the misconception. In fact, acknowledging a range of emotions is healthy.

      Positivity is persistence while using positive thinking strategies. It is sitting with your feelings; it is accepting what is; it is holding onto what makes you happy; it is purpose found in pain.

      And the reasoning behind choosing to be positiveyou get what you give. You receive what you believe.

      Here are 5 steps to cultivate a positive mental attitude. In part, they detail why it’s important to be positive because understanding assists in the pursuit as much as the adoption of the mindset.

      1. Know That You Can Change Your Attitude

      There’s a Maya Angelou quote that goes:

      “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

      When you choose positivity as your attitude, you select an attitude far more destined for resilient behavior than the alternative.

      When you have a negative attitude, your brain gives itself permission to develop negative thinking patterns and in turn, difficult and dark emotions. You spend all your days ruminating or worrying about the same thing over and over again, thinking that will solve it. Doing this will cause you to miss the answers rather than make the most out of the moments in front of you.

      In actuality, the first thing you need to do is calm yourself. It feels counterintuitive, but that means releasing your troubled mentality. When you release what is bothering you, you choose a safer attitude.

      One that may help you accept your emotions is to accept what is happening and accept that you don’t have all the answers. You’ll become less afraid of that fact.

      Attitude is everything. It’s how we heal ourselves. It’s how we stay positive. It’s how we secure things. It’s how we overcome.

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      Without a positive attitude, we cannot persevere. Perseverance is the point of positivity.

      A positive attitude is how we fuel willpower, and willpower is how we fuel positivity. It goes in a circle, and they are interchangeable.

      Positivity denotes willpower. You can be standing in a storm and feel completely calm when you use positivity. You stay grounded. You stand firm. You do not fall over. And you know what? Even if you do, you get back up again.

      There is a Japanese proverb, “Nana korobi ya oki”, which means fall seven times, get up eight. This means you do not stop; you keep going. You make it through the hard times to find the good.

      A positive mental attitude is about understanding you have power over your problems. Once you understand that, you can change your attitude. You have to choose positive thinking first to reap its benefits.

      Once you’ve chosen to be positive, you can do anything.

      2. Find Your Unique Meaning in Life

      When you have lost it all, a positive mental attitude can help you regain it or regain strength. It’s the best way to live. It’s the best way to learn from life and love.

      When you are positive, you have a power that circumstance nor others cannot take from you.

      Recognizing the power you have to carry on, to make the best of things, to keep going when everything inside you wants to quit is worth everything.

      You can’t always have it all, but you can always have a positive attitude. This helps you stand outhelps you to shine. It’s enough to save yourself (and others, potentially) with. That power keeps you grounded and safe.

      For example, say you lost someone to a disease. Instead of just thinking about the loss and seeing it as the end, a positive person may decide to contribute to a cause dedicated to that disease. In doing so, the positive person becomes a beacon of hope. They become a voice for something, which in turn gives them power over their hardship.

      This is how people keep going: meaning. Meaning creates power over our emotionsover our loss so that they do not define us.

      According to the Mayo Clinic, positivity affects one’s stress levels and overall health.[2] It is that powerful. When you are positive about a situation, you are less stressed and calmer and can reason better to solve the problem in front of you.

      Cultivating this power is about realizing that a sense of meaning can be derived from all circumstances, even senseless tragedies. People often contribute to something greater than themselves when they are searching for meaning, for purpose, for positivity, for power.

      You don’t always have to have a reason for why something happens, but you can use whatever happens for a greater cause. It’s subjectivechanging from person to person. That’s why no matter how much you want to derive meaning from an event, there are no outright answers about how to do that.

      So, what do you do? Meditate. Listen.

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      “Whatever purifies you is the right path, I will not try to define it. Let go of your mind then be mindful. Close your ears and listen.”

      -Rumi

      3. Be Absolutely Present

      In life, you have control over your ability to be present at the moment.

      Positivity is telling yourself that this moment is what matters. You can’t regret the past or see the future. The only way to be positive is to be here.

      What do you have right in front of you? Suddenly, your life shifts to gratitude.

      Gratitude helps us let go of what we do not need. Listing what makes us happy is one way to stay present.

      What do you have right now that you can use? You have the tools to be positive. Some techniques to getting there are through meditations or mantras.

      For example, “Nothing bad is happening right now” is an easy one to incorporate. Your past traumas can’t trip you when you ground yourself in the present, and your ability to reason further develops to the point that even if you can’t see the future, you know it will play out like thiswith you empowered and at the moment, using all your wisdom and tools and positivity to persevere. That’s all you need.

      Focus on the moment. In a blog about Mindfulness, Courtney Ackerman writes that one such exercise is to live in the moment to reduce worrying.[3]

      Think about the past and future in small, manageable doses. But focus mostly on the presentwhat is happening right here and now. This will reduce worrying, stress, and other negative emotions significantly.

      This will allow you to be positive.

      4. Practice Self-Love

      Self-talk is the core of self-lovethe core of what positivity is all about. Positive self-talk leads to self-love. And when our own cup is empty, we can pour into another’s. We have to help ourselves first before we can help others.

      What we say to ourselves is how we practice positivity or put it into action.

      For example, there’s a children’s book called The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper where the train thinks, “I think I can, I think I can” the whole way through its travels. The result? It could because it told itself that it can.

      Such a simple concept for a complex world. And yet, it works.

      This is also how self-love works. What you tell yourself is powerful and makes its mark.

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      Here are examples of things you could tell yourself to practice positivity:

      • I am enough.
      • I am worthwhile.
      • I can do this; I just have to hold on.
      • I will make it through this.
      • I am powerful.
      • I am unstoppable.

      Here’re more examples for you: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life. Add to this list with your own!

      When you write these positive mantras, you start to feel them. If you write “I am positive about this situation” enough times, you will start to feel that positivity seep in.

      Loving yourself is not going to be easy and cannot be done overnight. There will be a mess of feelings, regrets, negative self-talk, and more that you will have to carefully tiptoe through to hold your own heart.

      Your heart needs love, and often, we deny what it needs in pursuit of purposeless pleasures, such as external rewards rather than internal motivations for a life well-lived.

      We live for what others think of us, say about us, and sometimes, losing it all or going through hardship can teach us what we really need: ourselves.

      Loving yourself needs to come from an authentic place, not a “fake it til you make it” mentality. It needs to be real. It needs to include those flaws and all. That’s all you can do to become positive about yourself.

      You have to start within and do the work necessary to heal and be healthy. Try these 30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.

      5. Avoid Toxic Positivity (Unhealthy Positivity)

      Avoid the white-knuckling type of positivity where you don’t acknowledge your struggles or pain (as they also serve you). You don’t just want to tell yourself to move on because that equates to repression.

      Emotions are part of positivity. You want to sit with your feelings. You want to acknowledge them, give them a voice. Instead of telling yourself to move on, you let your emotions lead to a breakthrough that helps you cope with the changes in life.

      The greatest misconception made about being positive is assuming one does not have to feel in order to change. Throwing away hurt, anger, grief, sadness, and all those emotions we associate with being “negative” only thwart our growth and power.

      Positivity is USING these things to better yourself or the world around you because you’re not going to give in to them. They do not become you or your identity.

      You don’t have to be the white-knuckling soldier you’ve always been. You say your emotions, then follow up with some use or outlet for them. That makes your positivity profound.

      Positivity is not about wearing a mask; it is the opposite of a mask. It is freedom from negative thinking strategies such as jumping to conclusions, black or white thinking, worst-case scenario assumptions, and more. It’s acknowledging that there may be more strength or ability in you than previously assumed. And it’s worth it to find out.

      Toxic positivity may suggest you simply put a smile on and act fine. That’s not real positivity.

      Healthy positivity is about showing up when you’re tired; loving when you are feeling loss; healing when you want to cling to your hurt. It’s the realization that you are worth it, not worth writing off. And you care about the outcome, so you stay to sort it out.

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      You don’t abandon or jump ship. You hold on. That’s healthy positivity.

      So that one day you may say to others, “I see you. I feel you. I understand you,” because you have been where they are and got through it. It’s acknowledging the dark as much as the light.

      It’s living so others may live; it’s all you need. It’s not an exact formula everyone can replicate, and no one can copy you either.

      Your story is important. You are meant to be here. You are meant to do well. It will be those thoughts that get you to the finish linethriving.

      Final Thoughts

      In every moment, you’re not going to want to be positive. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel. But even then, choosing your attitude, recognizing the power of positivity, being absolutely present, practicing self-love, and avoiding toxic or unhealthy positivity will better your days and assist through your trials.

      Being positive isn’t easy, but it’s worth it to see what is going to happen next. Just around the corner may be the change you need, but you’ll never know if you don’t hold on to find out.

      Positivity is about being curious enough to stay for the outcome because you simply believe, hold onto, and trust in yourself and some goodness in this world. That’s enough to keep one going, and enough to help them go from surviving to thriving which is where you want to be.

      Everyone has low moments. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. You can feel negative emotions though without shaming yourself by practicing healthy positivity. These steps are how to cultivate a positive mental attitude.

      That way, you don’t live with regret. You live in the moment. You make the decision.

      You can start at any time. Positivity can be like a switch of perception. Once you uplift yourself, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. And soon, you’ll be onto uplifting others which helps even more.

      Positivity is contagious. It spreads like sunlight over the darkness. You can be the source of that sunlight.

      All you have to do is simple: believe you can.

      Good luck!

      More About Having a Positive Mental Attitude

      Featured photo credit: Court Prather via unsplash.com

      Reference

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