How to turn envy into inspiration
Like most I can get envious of others who are succeeding in the realms that I want to succeed in. It’s hard not to be envious sometimes, especially in the age of social media where we constantly see the most positive side of people’s lives. It is too easy to compare our real life with the edited versions we see, and feel jealous because others are achieving what we would like to achieve.
Envy is the flip side of inspiration. According to Barbara Fredrickson in her book Positivity, envy (or resentment) occurs when we see human excellence and our heart remains closed to it. We may grumble, or mock the other person, or belittle their achievements, or we may beat ourselves up for not doing as well as they are. We may even feel discouraged and give up on our own dreams.
However, we have a choice about whether we will respond to human excellence with negativity or with positivity. When we respond positively, we feel inspired and uplifted by the achievements of others. We have the urge to do our best and achieve our own successes.
Turn envy into inspiration
So, how can we turn envy into inspiration? Here are a few things to remember if you start feeling envious of another.
Appearances are deceptive.
People present the best versions of themselves to the outside world. We see the great things they have, the achievements, the promotions, the perfect family holidays. But we know nothing about all those things they would rather keep hidden – the mistakes, the failures, the sacrifices, and the conflict. We are all just people, trying our best to get on. We all have worries, days that don’t go so well, and heartache.
One of my favourite quotes is: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” (attributed to Oscar Wilde). You are not them. You have your own unique contribution to make. The combination of achievements and successes that light you up will be different from what you see them achieving. Write a list of your specific ambitions and goals. Then create a plan of how to achieve them.
Define success for yourself.
Success is often defined by money, career, and possessions. But success can mean a lot of different things to different people. It may include being a good friend or being kind to strangers. It may be doing a job you love even if the pay is poor and it is not valued by society. Often, we feel envious of people because they have or are doing what we think we want or what we feel we should be doing and not what we really want. Sit with your journal and determine what success really means to you.
It’s not a competition.
We often compare our efforts and achievements with those of other people and come up short. But really the only comparison we need to make is how we did today against how we did yesterday. Did you try your best today? Did you take one small step towards your goal? Did you try to be a better person today? Were you kind, compassionate, and loving? Did you live your values today? If so, you are making progress. You are living a good life.
It’s not a zero-sum game.
Another person’s success does not diminish your contribution. The world needs your unique perspective. There is no one else like you; no one can do what you do with the same flare, imagination, or passion as you. Which means there is a niche for what you have to offer. Use their success as encouragement that you can also succeed.
Look for what you can learn.
Start thinking positively about the other person – they are a shining example of what you want to achieve. Get curious. What do they do well? What techniques or methods do they use? What could you do the same? What could you do differently? Consider reaching out to them and letting them know what an inspiration they are.
Turning envy into inspiration is just one way that we can bring more positivity into our lives. If you would like to find other ways of bringing more happiness into your life, join our FREE online course Paths to Happiness: Live Your Best Life Story.Back