Most of us would probably consider ourselves generously spirited people, genuinely happy for others when good things come their way. Even still, most of us can say we are no stranger to that familiar pang of jealousy over someone else's career, house, or crazy long legs. I myself felt a twinge of this recently when all the coolest people in my 'hood were profiled in a magazine as being fabulous and creative, which they are. I felt stoked for their publicity. But that little whiny voice inside could still be heard saying, "Why aren't I in the magazine?" As much as of any of us try to not pay attention to whatever the Joneses are up to, jealousy can still creep in. Here are five ways to keep that green-eyed monster in check:
- It's usually not a zero sum game. Feelings of jealousy usually get set off when we see someone with more than us: more money, more love, more Manolos. But their stuff doesn't have anything to do with us. Their success in scoring a life-long love or the house of their dreams doesn't mean there's less in the world to go around. It's not like Aunt Eloise's famous blueberry pie at the Memorial Day barbecue; there's plenty for everyone, including seconds.
- Keep it in perspective. A wise lady I know--let's call her my mother--has always told me, "There's no point being jealous. Someone will always have more than you, and someone will always have less." While you're wishing you had Sally's life, Suzy over there is wishing she had yours. If we all just stopped looking around at everyone else, we might be able to actually appreciate what we've got going on for ourselves.
- Take a stance of abundance. Instead of feeling jealous rage over what you don't have, look around at everything you do have. When we were particularly strapped for cash, I remember telling my husband that I wanted nothing more than to be able to go out for a cold, dirty martini in a glamorous bar. But this treat was so far out of our budget, I might have well as been asking for a beach house in Malibu. He wisely reminded me of everything we did have: a bottle of wine stashed away for emergencies, a roof over our head, each other's company, and last but not least, season four of The Wire.
- Turn jealousy into good will. Whenever you start to feel jealous over someone else's worldly success, try consciously replacing the jealous thought with good will toward them. Don't be fake, of course, but let their success inspire you. Acknowledge the hard work, luck, and struggle that has gone into their good fortune. Congratulate them. This is definitely easier said than done when your best friend is winning an Oscar and you're still slinging burgers. But you will feel better if you can find a way to channel a nagging, negative feeling into a kinder one.
- Stay on your own path. Not to get all corny on you, but each of has a set of talents we bring to the world. You may be an amazing chess player, a world-class listener, a kick ass calligrapher. Your life's purpose is about living your life, as beautiful and bold and brave as you can. Let so-and-so over there walk their path, and help them out if they ask for directions. But don't worry if they get to the check point before you. There's no rush; you might be about to stumble across the most breathtaking scenic overlook.
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