"Comparison is the thief of joy”- Theodore Roosevelt
We’ve all experienced the truth of this saying. Maybe at the beach where a friend’s figure, beau or joie de vivre eclipses ours in seeming shining perfection! And, it’s no fun to feel our joy draining away, swallowed up greedily by the quicksand of envy.
I’ve had my fair share of feeling jealous… in yoga classes, visiting my in-laws, out to dinner with my husband and even browsing the net! Now, instead of feeling ashamed, I have come to embrace feeling envious as an illuminating moment. I deal with it in a way that turns it from a dark and hidden secret to an outward expression of longing; and onto inspiration for action! May this help you in moments where the quicksand threatens to devour your joy, too!
1. First, notice. It’s super easy to feel a pang of jealousy and brush it under a mask of disapproval or irritation. Disapproval and irritation, although in themselves not comfortable emotional states, are a lot more comfortable than envy. Envy is a beautiful and very important emotion, because it tells us loud and clear that we want something we don’t already have, and that we deserve it. The discomfort comes from the realization that we don’t have it yet, and that someone else, less deserving in our eyes, does.
2. Getting clarity. What is it that triggered the envy pang? Was it the way your friend is so comfortable with her body? Was it an object they own? A lifestyle they lead? A way of communicating? Get as precise as you can. You don’t need to figure out why you’re jealous of that particular aspect; just get clear enough to define it.
3. Coming clean for a wave of relief. Feel the relief in either of two ways. First, you can deliver a genuine compliment on the object of your envy to its owner: “I have to tell you, you look amazing in that swimsuit!” or, “You and your children have so much fun together; it’s just enchanting!” Or, second, bless what you appreciate about the thing you’re envious of, silently or aloud: “May you continue to have a beautiful relationship with your children.” Or, “May your commitment to a healthy lifestyle and your body continue to keep you in beautiful shape.”
In blessing another’s good, we reinforce the truth that life is abundant. That there is, in truth, more than enough goodness for all of us. It creates good karma. And, it focuses our brain on what we really like, thereby (according to NLP practitioners) firing up the reticular activating system in our brains which helps us notice more clearly when we are headed in the right direction to create positive life change for ourselves.
4. Letting Envy’s message guide us forward. Finally, when you’ve got some down time, reflect on the “thing” you defined that kicked off the feeling of envy. If it’s an object, ask yourself, “What would it mean if I had that?” If it’s a relationship or lifestyle, ask yourself, “What sort of person would I be if I had that?” Then, journal it. It might look something like this: “I got jealous when my friend told me her husband brings her flowers each Friday after work. Upon defining it, I realized it was the act of being brought a gift -- and regularly -- by her husband, that I was jealous of. Next, I inwardly blessed her and her husband and wished them continued romance and special memories together. Then, I asked myself, ‘What sort of person would I be if I had a husband who brought me gifts regularly?’ Answer… I would be sweet -- check! I would be appreciative of his effort -- check, but hmmm, I could improve on that actually! I’d be more present for him during the day -- hmmm, needs work! I’d be more excited by his presents, I’d be clear on my likes as far as presents go -- hmmm, both need work!”
"This is an amazingly illuminating experience, and with the twist of positive intention to your jealousy, you’ll discover more and more ways to uplift your life to enjoy the spoils it seemed someone else was getting. For, "Joy is not in things -- it is in us." - Richard Wagner.