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Envy Used to Be a Good Thing, Why We Don’t Need It Any More?

Envy Used to Be a Good Thing, Why We Don’t Need It Any More?

Jealousy and envy is part of human nature, a trait that everyone has.

An experiment about envy was conducted by researchers from Oxford and Warwick Universities.[1] In the study, researchers created an online game that gave people the chance to win money. People who won were presented with the option to spend some of their winnings to burn the winnings of others. This at first sounds like a strange option. Yet during the experiment, 2/3 of the players chose to burn others winnings.

Their envy was so bad that, it was not enough for them to do well, other people had to do badly. Their victory had to be conclusive, and they were paradoxically willing to lose money to ensure this. In the end, everyone lost out.

If a person wasn’t envious of someone they considered more successful, they may not aspire to be like them and as a result, may not push themselves to greater success. However, make no mistake, envy is always destructive.

Envy Was for Survival, but Now It’s for Savage

It has been argued that envy originated as an early survival instinct. When humans lived as hunter-gatherers millions of years ago, survival and social advancement was based on competition. In such a world, it is easy to imagine that a person would have only judged themselves in direct comparison to others.

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The caveman would have been constantly on the lookout for rivals, or those in possession of things they desired. When such a person was identified, the caveman would have either eliminated that rival, or found a way to beat them in other ways. Not unlike how a wolf can become the alpha of his clan by beating them in other ways.

    But the fact is, humans no longer operate like this. We do not survive by eliminating our rivals anymore. Putting others down in order to raise yourself up is not the good way to succeed. While taking others down is irrational, it can be illegal too. As such we have outlived the need for envy.

      Envy makes us blind and unreasonable, think about it, have you ever seen a post on facebook by someone you know that makes it seem like their lives are different than in reality? Maybe it’s a flashy car a friend has just bought himself, or maybe it’s another friend traveling around the world. All of their lives seem perfect.

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        But the truth is, you never really know the real life behind each of these facebook posts. That friend who has a flashy car could be having loads of struggles that you don’t see, maybe he just wants attention from others yet he doesn’t really have true friends to share his thoughts with.

          You are assuming that they have a great life based on what they have showed others in a virtual world. Envy makes you admire another person’s life and believe that others are having better lives than yours. It’s like giving another person compliment in a way that make yourself feel bad.

          A Wise Man’s Take on Envy

          Next time when you feel like envy is popping up in your head, try these steps:

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          1. Stop Believing the Perfect Picture

          You’re not other people. You don’t really know the struggles behind that flashy car, that cool vacation, or that expensive house. For example, that friend who’s got himself a nice car doesn’t have real friends, that’s very sad.

          That “perfect” picture in our mind is purely imaginative. When we stop idealizing what others are experiencing, we will not be blinded by what we wee with our eyes.

          2. Reframe the Picture

          Ask yourself, the things that others have, do you really need them?

          Can you imagine how expensive it is to maintain a house like that? What’s the point of having nine or more rooms when they only have a family of three? Most of their money probably goes into merely keeping their house clean and in good condition. Ultimately, a house like that might not suit you.

          What about that car? Sure it looks nice, it’s probably comfortable and fast. But it’s pretty impractical for driving around a busy city. It might not be very fuel efficient. So right there, the two most appealing parts of the picture become less impressive and actually pretty useless.

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          Relate what you see to your own life, picture yourself being in that situation and what you really need to take care of. Then you’ll see the downside of those things too and realize that you don’t really need them.

          3. Look Away from the Picture and Look at Yourself

          It sounds like a cliche, but it’s always a good idea to be thankful for what you have. Look at the people and things you’ve already had and how these things have satisfied your needs.

          You might not think your car isn’t fancy, but it takes you to where you want to go. You might want a bigger house, but your current one could be cosy, warm and comfortable.

          Envy will only make you sadder. It doesn’t help you to make yourself better and happier. So when envy is hitting you again, stop, take a look at yourself and appreciate what you have.

          Reference

          More by this author

          Brian Lee

          Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

          100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

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          Last Updated on April 17, 2019

          15 Inspiring Ideas to Boost Your Motivation for Success

          15 Inspiring Ideas to Boost Your Motivation for Success

          If you get stuck feeling unmotivated, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief to learn there are simple, yet high impact, changes that will steer you back on track.

          Here are 15 tips that will not only restore your motivation for success but raise it so you can pursue your personal definition of a successful and happier life.

          1. Practice Looking at the Glass Being Half Full When Life Is Challenging

          This is not as easy to do if you feel like you’re unsuccessfully playing dodgeball in most areas of your life. Practice short bursts of radical acceptance[1] paired with looking for fine threads of your day you are grateful for that bring you happiness.

          It will feel strange at first but with time your brain’s neuro-circuitry gets fitting in focusing on what motivates and inspires you.

          Start practicing this exercise at times during the day when you feel okay, so then when rough times hit, your ability to rebound will be more automatic. However, you need to practice.

          Before you know it, your battles will become like a walk in the park!

          2. Review the Happiness Level of Your Everyday Social Network

          Jim Rohn’s famous saying:

          “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”

          It is not gospel. But in examining whether or not your relationships support, encourage, inspire, educate and nurture you, you actually need to look beyond those five people.

          Social science professors James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis explain how we need to look at our third degree of separation to identify those who influence our happiness in our social relationships.[2]

          People are generally happier because their first-level friends are also central to a happy network of people. To increase your motivation and happiness, don’t just look at your friends. Look at your friends’ friends!

          3. Clean up Your Relationships — Work and Personal

          Do you ever ask yourself what aspects of your relationships are healthy for you and bring you happiness? Do you also consider what you contribute to those and whether doing also brings you happiness?

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          It’s time to not only reflect on what you gain from relationships but what contributions you can make to help them further flourish.

          Caution! Over-helping is not the answer here. Sometimes you need to cull the time you spend with certain people. However, it’s about being more accountable and choosing to improve how you want to show up for people in your life, work-wise and personally.

          Set yourself some personal goals and get to the task. Cleaning up and stepping up will continually motivate you. You’ll heighten that positive vibration of your everyday existence.

          4. Develop a Personal Development Plan for Your Own Definition of Success and Happiness

          Goal-setting isn’t just for helping us attain better cars, houses or greater income. When you change goal focus to become the person required to obtain those things, your goals expand beyond tangible limits. Having a personal development plan is essential.

          Draw a circle and divide it up into pie segments (like having spokes on a wheel) that represent the following areas of your life:

          • Finances and money
          • Intimate relationships
          • Friends and social relationships
          • Health and wellbeing
          • Spirituality and religion
          • Hobbies, leisure and fun activities
          • Vocation, career and work

          The center point of your circle represents zero. Zero means you are least satisfied. The outer circumference of your circle is ten. Ten means you are the most satisfied and content.

          For each area, plot on the spoke your current rating of satisfaction. Then, review each area again and denote on the spoke what level of satisfaction you desire.

          See where the differences between your current and desired satisfaction levels are smallest. These may be the easiest areas to start brainstorming the changes you want to experience. Some areas won’t be as important to you to make changes. Others will be. Working with an impartial coach can greatly help to flesh out clarity.

          Regularly doing this exercise (e.g. every quarter) will reignite your motivation and keep you on the path to reach greater success and happiness.

          5. Invest in Personal Development

          Your personal development plan will give you strong clues as to what programs, books, podcasts, networking groups and social activities to tap into. But be wary of the bright, shiny object syndrome and well-meaning friends and family projecting their countless recommendations on to you!

          Be gracious and thankful for their advice and guidance (even though it can often be uninvited!), choose wisely and make your own decisions.

          Focus on the challenges you face now. Are you experiencing problems with your significant other? Are your children suffering from bullying at school and you’re unsure how to help them?

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          Perhaps you are experiencing a plateau in work satisfaction or your business is experiencing a slump. Whatever problems are present for you now, explore activities and education that will help you solve those.

          6. Invest in Experiences, Not Material Things

          Splashing your cash on physical possessions to reward yourself won’t just send you bankrupt. When you constantly rely on external things to motivate you, you’re in real danger of never being satisfied.

          Instead, ignite your motivation internally by investing in experiences which allow you to feel those feelings you believe you will have when you’re successful.

          If becoming a public speaker is a dream you have, invest in Toastmasters or a public speaking program. If whisking you and your partner away for a luxury weekend at a second’s notice fits your definition of success, save over time to do this.

          Don’t just set your sights on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Practice feeling success at each step in your journey.

          7. Create or Join a Mastermind Group

          Napoleon Hill created the concept in his book Think and Grow Rich first published in 1937, yet today, being an entrepreneur is still often a terribly lonely existence. Joining a mastermind group, your motivation is fueled by the collective genius of others also wanting to collaborate, solve problems, cross-promote, network and learn new things.

          Not only is keeping motivated easier in itself, your thinking also grows exponentially.

          Choose your group wisely and collectively, your contributions will escalate you all to refreshing new heights.

          8. Work with a Coach

          We have personal training coaches, health and wellbeing coaches and career coaches yet we rarely engage a coach to help us with two of the most significant factors influencing our success and happiness: money and our psychological well-being. Our approach is often remedial and it’s not until we’re in dire straits that we call in the emergency services.

          Money may not buy us happiness but financial freedom is having freedom of choice and freedom of choice means wider opportunities for greater happiness. Risks and growth always pose threat to our mental and emotional stability.

          By learning proactive skills that strengthen your resilience in your personal and working life, you can lift your motivation to tackle challenges with greater courage. You have a backup plan and safety nets to catch you when you fall.

          Whether it’s a money mindset coach, a performance coach, a business coach or a relationship coach…open up the conversation. Get to know yourself better, make plans to clear the hurdles and get ready to sprint!

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          9. Focus Your Conversations on Your Ideas and Goals

          When you increase emphasis and focus upon certain things, feelings and thoughts, you are telling your brain these things are important. The feelings and thoughts will become more easily amplified and neural pathways which access similar feelings and thoughts become activated.

          Given this, be strategic. Deliberately reframe the conversations you have to discuss ideas, plans and progress to take you toward where you want to go.

          Stimulate and train your brain to increase its stretch. Direct it to dwell on positive experiences and results you have had, and deliberately share in conversations these feelings and results are what you want more of.

          Not only are you training yourself to feel happier for greater parts of your day, you are communicating your true desires and wishes for a more successful and happier life to the wider community.

          Share with them more of what you desire to experience and achieve. You create a greater likelihood of receiving favorable surprises in answer to your requests.

          10. Have Goals to Become a Better Friend, Partner or Work Associate

          Examine your relationships by asking yourself what aspects are healthy for you and bring you happiness. Also, consider what you contribute to that relationship and whether doing so brings you happiness.

          Think about not just what you gain from the relationship but also what you can do to help make that relationship flourish more. Can you improve how you show up for people in your life, work-wise and personally? Set yourself some personal goals and get to the task.

          Do you need to organize a get together instead of waiting for your friend to organize the rendezvous yet again? You might put the garbage out without being asked by your partner from now on. Stepping up and stepping into healthier and happier relationships will only heighten the positive vibration of your everyday existence.

          11. Learn How to Lead Better by Encouraging Others to Become Better Leaders

          If you’re a leader, it can be really hard to resist the urge to take the steering wheel when you can see others are about to drive off a cliff. However, stepping out of the limelight to let others have their fifteen minutes of fame is the sign of a true leader.

          Supporting and coaching others to develop confidence and stay in the driver’s seat on their journey is truly soul-enriching. Stay beside them when they drive into the fog and be persistent with your encouragement to keep them focused and on track.

          You have greater purposefulness to others when you empower them to work through their own trials and tribulations and help them build greater resilience in the process. Your self-esteem and internal happiness will deepen on a richer level and stay with you for far, far longer.

          12. Embrace Negative Feedback and Criticism

          We don’t actually learn best when people agree and applaud us. We learn best when we make mistakes and experience the intense emotions connected with the failure or rejection.

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          Invite yourself to look for the lesson in every perceived misfortune. There is always a golden nugget for growth; we just have to increase our practice of looking for it.

          Lick your wounds only for so long and move quickly to look for the lesson. When you can do so, you can charge your internal motivation from within and still experience happiness even in the darkest of times.

          13. Exercise a Sense of Adventure Every Day

          When you set small goals to do things slightly differently each day, you can entirely re-shape the level of happiness you experience. Here’s a list to play with:

          • Try a different coffee brew to start your day
          • Dress in work attire even if you are working from home today
          • Walk a different route from your final subway stop to the office
          • Smile at a stranger as you make eye contact passing them in the street
          • Pay a compliment to one of your work colleagues when you notice they are feeling stressed
          • Go out walking during your break if you usually eat lunch at your desk or inside

          Spice up small changes in the brief moments of your daily living. Small shifts lift not only your motivation but shed light and happy vibes to those around you.

          14. Orchestrate Your Destiny Using Daily Imagery

          Take advantage of the fact your brain does not know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined when it comes to imagery. Instruct your day-dreaming activity to envisage what happiness and success look like, feel like, smell like, taste like and sound like.

          When you daily rehearse your mini movies of your success and happiness goals, your brain’s reticular activating system will begin filtering in information to help you reach these.

          Before too long, your plans, actions and decisions will increasingly honor these. Keep your eyes on the prize and you are more likely to reach success sooner than you might think.

          15. Become an Expert Researcher of Your Own Challenges

          Whilst we have all the resources within us, we don’t necessarily have all the answers. However, when knowing more, we feel (and are) in more control.

          Look further afield and gain from the knowledge, experience and insights of the qualified experts in those areas. However, be aware of ulterior agendas being pushed upon you.

          Sifting through the information relevant to you and following your gut instinct will only spark your motivation. The considered decisions you make in the moment will always be the right ones.

          More Articles to Boost Your Motivation

          Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Marsha Linehan: Radical Acceptance
          [2] James H Fowler, associate professor, Nicholas A Christakis, professor: Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study

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