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It’s Okay To Be Envious As Long As You’re Not Jealous

It’s Okay To Be Envious As Long As You’re Not Jealous

Jealousy is often seen as a negative emotion or a bad trait to have. It is usually synonymous with actions such as revenge or bitterness especially when it triggers a certain energy within someone. In romantic scenarios, the idea of someone being jealous of their partner talking to another person is a typical example. Or perhaps you see someone else with something you desperately want but don’t have.

Jealousy can lead some of us to make decisions we later regret or at least cause us to become cold and bitter. But there are also times when experiencing that feeling of envy can flick a switch inside of us. That yearning for something we don’t have can trigger us and fuel that determination to get what we want.

So can we look at jealousy differently? Can it actually be a good thing to feel envious? Could we use envy and jealousy to our advantage?

    The Subtle Difference Between Jealousy and Envy

    Jealousy is a natural emotion yet it’s been condemned by all cultures throughout history. It tends to be perceived with a negative charge with ultimate destructive tendencies either to other people or more likely just to our core selves. But while the negative energy can reside in envy, it can also be the basis for construction and motivation in our focus.

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    Small amounts of jealously can actually keep a relationship together or inspire us to be more attentive with our actions.

    So why do we even have the ability to feel these emotions?

    According to David Straker, author of Changing Minds, jealousy is primarily about our reaction to loss. When you are emotionally attached to something and it’s perceived as taken away from you or threatened to be taken away, your reaction is one of hurt and anger.

    Envy is more focused on what you don’t have. You may see someone with something you want and envy that person. The amount of envy you feel is relative to the amount of unfairness you feel about the situation and this negative energy is often aimed proportionally at the person in question. It can then spiral into inferior feelings of unworthiness and so the result is to justify things staying as they are instead of using it as motivation to achieve more.

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      When we break it down, envy is rooted in fear. It’s the fear of feeling weak, powerless or less-than. Advertisers all know about this and tap into the envy lurking in our subconscious to get us to compete with others and spend money to essentially keep up with the Jones’.

      There’s an interesting quote from Helmut Schoeck’s book, Envystates: “Envy is a drive which lies at the core of man’s life as a social being, and which occurs as soon as two individuals become capable of mutual comparison.” He also notes, “It is the great regulator in all personal relationships: fear of arousing it curbs and modifies countless actions.”

      Often, if someone shines a spotlight on an accomplishment of ours there’s a need to counteract this by us mentioning some misfortune to balance it out. The negativity around envy is born out of comparisons which only become stronger within a close-knit society and people with similar and comparable backgrounds to us.

      How The ‘Flaw’ of Envy Can Be a Good Thing

      It’s important to perceive envy as an indicator to where your focus is and where it’s guiding you. It’s an opportunity to stand back and re-evaluate your mindset and what you want in life.

      What is this feeling of envy telling you? Is there a certain direction you want to follow? Why are you having these feelings?

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      Understand that when you feel envy, it’s not about the other person or circumstance, it’s fundamentally about you. It’s time to question yourself – not in a judgemental way – but rather a means to focus on what needs to change within yourself in order to get what you want.

      Envy is an illusion. It’s not about reality but all about our own perception. Once we understand this, we can use this as fuel for motivation and changing our mindset towards ourselves and our situation.

      How To Use Envy To Your Advantage

      When feelings of envy come up in your life, question yourself.

      1. What can I learn from this person’s success?
      2. What’s been stopping me from thinking bigger with my life and not achieving what they’ve achieved?
      3. Have I set the right standards for my own success? Have I appreciated what I’ve already achieved or have I just dismissed milestones? Am I not getting recognition because I’ve been envious of others rather than recognising their successes positively?

      Embracing our negative emotions is key because they’re there to show us changes we need to make. Envy and jealously opens up doors that we need to acknowledge and walk through.

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        When we realise envy is more about us we can understand that it’s really us acknowledging other’s fortunes instead of our own. Jean Vanier stated that, “envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.”

        Therefore the best cure for envy is prosperity and the best thing about envy is the opportunity for motivation and change in your life. If you’re feeling the emotion of envy strongly, it may be an important indicator to let you know there are perspectives about your own life that you need to re-evaluate. Use it for motivation and positivity rather than the negative and powerless charge we’re led to believe it is.

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel.com via pexels.com

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        Anna Chui

        Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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        Last Updated on April 23, 2019

        The Key to Happiness and Leading a Fulfilling Life

        The Key to Happiness and Leading a Fulfilling Life

        If I ask you “what is happiness?”, then what would your answer be? It’s probably difficult to come up with a simple answer. Yet, here you are, looking for a key to happiness and how to lead a fulfilling life.

        The truth is that a universal key to happiness is a myth.

        That doesn’t mean that you should stop looking for yours right now, it only means that you need to be careful when reading articles about “a key to happiness”. The universal key to happiness is non-existent because happiness is one of the most difficult things in life to define.

        How Do You Define Happiness?

        Now, let’s go back to that difficult question: “what is happiness?”

        Have you thought about it already? Let me give you an example of how hard it is to define happiness.

        Right now, I’m drinking a cup of coffee while writing the outline of this article about how to define happiness. Am I happy right now? Yes, I’m feeling pretty happy:

        • I’ve got nothing to worry about.
        • All my basic needs are met.
        • My family, friends, and girlfriend are all happy as well.
        • The weather is nice.
        • I’m going outside in a couple of minutes to go for a walk.

        These things are all making me feel pretty happy right now.

        By that logic, let’s define my happiness as follows:

        “Happiness is when I’m in a worry-free state, the weather is nice, everybody I know is alright and I can enjoy a hot cup of coffee.”

        Voila. There it is. My definition of happiness.

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        The keys to my happiness are obvious now, and I know enough in order to lead the happiest life I can. I just need to focus on the things I listed above.

        Your Definition of Happiness Changes over Time

        Wait a second… If it were this simple, then why have I ever been unhappy?

        You might have guessed it already, but I made a very simple error. I assumed that what makes me happy today will make me happy for the rest of my life. And that’s just wrong.

        Happiness is something that not only changes from person to person, but it’s also constantly evolving from day to day. This is why happiness is such a difficult concept, and why there’s not a single “key to happiness”.

        Whoever tells you otherwise is likely not aware that people change, and that people don’t always share the same values, goals, and purposes.

        How to Find the Key to Happiness

        Define What Happiness Means to You!

        For a minute, I want you to do consider your own happiness. I want you to think back of last week, and consider what things you did that had a positive effect on your happiness.

        What things had a significant influence on your mood? What comes to your mind?

        Was it spending time with your friends? Was it a great movie you watched? Did you attend an exciting sports event? Or did you enjoy sipping hot coffee on a sunny Wednesday morning? It could obviously be just about anything!

        It’s important to realize that all these things were part of your “key to happiness”. Your happiness was defined by these things, and you just measured a small part of that.

        Does that mean you now know all the answers? Do you now know how to live the rest of your life? No. But you do know what things made you happy last week, and that’s very useful information when determining your own definition of happiness to build on.

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        If you consciously keep track of what factors determine your happiness, then you are more likely to find out just how much your definition of happiness can vary from time to time. This knowledge can help you find your key to happiness.

        A Personal Example

        You see, even though happiness is claimed to be the factor of life that’s the most difficult to measure, you can still measure how you define your own happiness each day. It’s simple.

        For me personally, when I think back of last weekend, I remember that I really enjoyed spending time with my girlfriend, walking through the woods on a sunny day and just relaxing (a.k.a. doing nothing!)

        These are happiness factors that were a vital part of my happiness definition this weekend. I had just survived a long and busy week at work, so I was really trying to find some easy enjoyment. The things that I did this weekend were perfect for the occasion, as it was a very happy day for me.

        If you were to ask me what the key to my happiness was that weekend, I’d give you the following answer:

        To spend quality time with my girlfriend, being able to enjoy the good weather while being carefree and relaxed.

        While this is unlikely to be the key to your happiness for the rest of your life, it is a pretty good start.

        You can do exactly the same. All you need to do is to define your own happiness from day to day.

        Find Your Purpose in Life

        The next step to determining your key to happiness is to determine the things that give you purpose. You will live a fulfilling life when you’re happily tracking towards a purpose. Something that you’re passionate about.

        Let’s use the previous example of my key to happiness. Will I be happy for the rest of my life when I focus exclusively on a relaxed and carefree feeling? Probably not, because it will not lead to a very fulfilling life. Not for me, at least.

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        There are some things that drive my actions in a much bigger sense than only my daily, short-term happiness. For some people, that purpose could be:

        • To take care of a loving family
        • To build a successful company
        • To climb the highest mountains
        • To be rich and famous

        You have to find out what your purpose in life is in order to truly determine your key to happiness. Only then will you be able to define a sustainable plan that will make you both happy and fulfilled.

        It’s important to know that you can find your purpose only when trying out new things. This is a crucial part of finding your key to happiness. You can’t read an article online (like this one) and suddenly learn about what your key to happiness is!

        The same thing goes for finding your purpose. You can’t expect to find your purpose without trying new things. People stumble upon their purpose in life in lots of different ways.[1]

        Combine Your Purpose in Life with the Keys to Your Happiness in Order to Lead a Fulfilling Life

        Now, this might sound like a mouthful.

        A purpose in life x keys to your happiness = fulfilling life?

        It’s actually really simple. Let’s take the following example:

        I’ve found that my purpose in life is to become the CEO of a great and powerful charity (I know, I know…)

        I feel a purpose and sense of accomplishment when working towards these goals. However, should I therefore sacrifice everything in my life in order to reach that purpose? Should I work 100 hours a week, disregard any relationships and use sleep medication just to fall asleep under the stress?

        Nope. If I do that, I might reach my purpose, but I won’t still be happy.

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        However, if I spend the rest of my life similar to how I spent my last weekend (enjoying the sun and walking through the forest) I will also miss long-term happiness. That’s because I won’t feel like my life has a purpose.

        Your key to happiness and the purpose of your life need to compliment each other. They need to be in balance.

        Destination = Happiness = Journey

        You’ve probably heard the saying:

        “Happiness is a journey, not a destination”.

        Think of the destination as your purpose, and think of the journey as the things you do that make you happy (the keys to your happiness).

        You can’t spend your life running (or sprinting) towards your destination, because you’ll forget to enjoy the journey.

        At the same time, you can’t head out on your journey without having a destination in mind.

        That’s why I believe your happiness is a product of both the journey and the destination.

        Or in other words, you need to combine your purpose in life with the keys to your happiness in order to lead a fulfilling life. This will allow you to create a road map – a specific and concise plan – that will help you determine how to best lead your life. If you’ve done that, you’re ready to steer your life in the best direction possible!

        Final Thoughts

        The most important thing to remember when trying to define your keys to a happy and fulfilling life is simple:

        There is no universal key that leads to your happiness. That’s because your happiness is unique in each and every single way. What you can do is:

        • Realize that you can define the factors that make you happy.
        • Know that your happiness – and the factors that influence it – change over time, and so will your “key to happiness”.
        • Find out what your purpose in life is. You can only do this by trying out many things. You can’t learn this from simple reading an article!
        • Combine your purpose and the things that make you happy in order to get the best idea of how to steer your life in the best direction possible!

        Featured photo credit: Sam Manns via unsplash.com

        Reference

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