Envy is a core part of our nature. But, of all human emotions, envy is one most people deny ever feeling or reacting to. However, it’s impossible not to have it, even for a stoic.
Envy comes from not being satisfied. It arises when we see others possessing things we don’t have. This can be anything from achievements and material possessions to qualities like intelligence or beauty. And, since it’s also our nature to be insatiable, we always want more, envy often clings to us like a monkey’s grip.
Why am I envious of other people’s success?
You, I, and everybody, have likely felt envious of someone at some point in time.
- Often, it’s because we view ourselves as peers—equal in age, skills, strength, nature, or achievements. I recall a time when I felt envious of someone excelling in photography way ahead of me because I felt we came from the same hood and age groups.
- Other times, because we want everything the other person has. This is like the case of a kid who is never satisfied with his toys and fights for other kids’ toys. Or the person who needs to get every new iPhone on the market because they don’t want to appear out-of-trends.
- Envy also stems from feeling a tad insecure and a touch daunted by someone else’s brainpower, skills, or reputation. It’s a common plague in schools and offices. I vividly remember a coursemate who was greener than lime about another coursemate’s achievements. He played it cool, but beneath the excessive praise, self-deprecation as a form of humor, the subtle act of withholding information from the class, and the desperation to know every move of others, I could taste a souring flavor of envy.
Is it okay to be envious of others?
Thanks to Envy’s ranking as number four on the list of seven deadly sins, societies worldwide aren’t exactly celebrating it (and honestly, who wants a one-way ticket to Hell?). Nevertheless, research suggests that envy might have some surprising usefulness after all.
Envy wears a Janus-like mask (a Roman god), with two faces gazing in opposite directions:
- Benign envy and
- Malicious envy.
Benign envy: When envy is okay
Benign envy holds a silver lining, whispering, “I lack this and truly desire it.” It’s the wish to possess what another person has, without any malicious or malevolent intentions.
For instance, when I envied the other photographer’s lead, instead of stewing in resentment, I felt a surge of motivation to explore various photography styles and enhance my skills to become better.
At times, this kind of envy signifies that you care, recognize the value of what someone else possesses, and desire a piece of it as well. This can lead to friendly competition among friends, a healthy rivalry among business folks, motivate people to work on themselves, and get creative.
Malicious envy: When envy is not okay
On the other side, when envy morphs into a malicious type, it becomes counterproductive, making you want to harm others. It’s like feeling, “I should have what you have, because I’m better than you, and you do not deserve it”.
This reminds me of the story of Cain and Abel, where Cain killed Abel out of malicious envy because Abel’s offering was favored by God. It shows how bad envy can get (it can pull you to destroy your loved one).
Investigate yourself. Check if you are the malicious envious type. Though it might feel good and serve you well at the moment (the rage, the schemes, and perhaps the schadenfreude) in the long run you’ll be consumed by hatred and narrow-mindedness.
Get our free eBook on how to live a happy and meaningful life when you input your email now.
How do I Stop Being Envious Of Other People’s Lives (Success)?
To conquer the destructive power of envy:
Acknowledge your feelings of envy
Due to our cultural, societal, and religious factors, we may avoid being seen as an envious person. Nevertheless, denying this aspect of our human nature neither enhances nor diminishes it.
Hence, it’s better to acknowledge your feelings of envy so you can better monitor and control how they might influence your thoughts and behaviors.
Focus and be grateful for your strengths
If you’re a land lover with a knack for running, becoming a swimming champ might not be in the cards for you! And that’s okay.
You can’t master everything in life. So, don’t burden yourself with needing everything.
Rather than obsessing over others’ accomplishments, focus and be grateful for your standout traits and talents. Polish those gems, and you’ll shine even brighter than a gold medal!
Best way to become ungrateful, and impatient: compare yourself to people trying to win their games.
Feel intimidated and envious of them: you miss the opportunity to learn and you become weaker.
Resist unhealthy comparison; it breeds discontent and harmful pressure.
Celebrate others’ success
Instead of feeling threatened by others’ achievements, be happy and stick with them.
Stick with people better than you: you’ll improve faster and become robust in your crafts.
Positive interactions can lead to new opportunities and collaborations.
Translate your goals into habits
Goals are achieved with habits not daydreaming.
Habits are the little hours you put in, at home, school, or work. Daydreaming is the fantasy of life without stress on the beach, on a yacht, and in the club every night.
Habits compounds to get you a little bit closer to a better position. Daydreaming turns you into a consumer of other people’s efforts.
Design a system of attainable habits for yourself, based on your abilities and aspirations, to minimize feelings of inadequacy.
Be a part of a tribe
Throughout history, humans have thrived in groups, from ancient clans, tribes, and bands, to modern-day brand teams, online buddies, and business partners. Collaboration is our survival strategy, helping us brave challenges, escape pitfalls, hunt, and gather.
When you dive into the trenches with others, sharing in their struggles, triumphs, and failures, envy tends to fade.
You don’t need an official partnership; maybe you join forces on a quest to beautify the world, spread algebra wisdom, or freeze special moments in photos.
Just be a part of a tribe.
Foster empathy and admiration
Every champ you see had to bleed and sacrifice for the trophy.
It was the same for Elon Musk, Robert Greene, 5O Cent, J. Cole, Obi Cubana, etc. They all paid a certain price.
Understand that most people didn’t have it on a platter of gold or luck.
They faced challenges to achieve their success. Feel admiration and compassion for them rather than envy.
Conclusion: Does envy ever go away?
No fibs! There are times when envy sneaks in as I browse the internet, checking out the stuff from folks I look up to. But instead of sour grapes, I picture the sweat and toil they poured into their craft (the grind, the cash, the clock). I give props, dig into their work, and soak in their tales.
We can’t banish the feeling entirely. Yet, we can channel that feeling to spark empathy, wisdom, and personal development.
Below are other content you may find helpful:
- 2 Humble Truths About Success; And 4 Unusual Steps To Lead A Successful Life
- Atelophobia: Conquer Your Fear of Imperfection with These 5 Tips
- Gain Confidence In Yourself With These 10 Tips
- Resisting Money Obsession: 10 Steps to Appreciate Your True Value While Building A Meaningful Life
- Stop Chasing, Start Attracting: This May Be The Secret To Getting What You Want
A mindful self-help writer and photographer