On Jealousy…

“The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves” – William Penn.

In my culture, jealousy and envy are seen as collaborating sisters who can bring forth the tides of hell. Home entrances are decked out with eye shaped blue ceramics to shield the inhabitants from “the evil eye,” the eyes of the jealous and envious.

In the West, the two are differentiated: the former is seen as a natural product of love, and the latter is perceived as malicious. Those who are jealous feel this way against their better judgment and have good intentions, but those who are envious are guilty of consciously wishing failure and loss upon others. In the East, this differentiation is ignored because jealousy and envy are both expected to bring bad luck. Whether or not the bad luck is intentionally generated is irrelevant.

Regardless of which camp you choose, if any, I think we can all agree that feeling jealous is not pleasant for anyone. The grass always appears to be greener on the other side, but the truth is that the grass is the greenest where you water it. If your neighbor waters his lawn more frequently, and spends hours in the sun pulling out weeds, what claim do you have to his results? None. Do not covet what your neighbor has if you choose not to put in the same amount of work for it.

I’ve felt jealous very few times in my life, and I was wondering why that is. The emotion seems to come naturally to so many people, so what am I doing differently to thwart it? Upon contemplation, I realized that jealousy has no grasp over me because I always try to look at the picture as a whole. For example, if my friend seems to have a lot more than I do, my reaction is never “lucky her!”. Instead, I ask myself what she had to do to get what she has. If I can’t find the answer, then I’ll directly ask her: “What do you have to do to achieve all of this?” More often than not, the answer is that she has to work longer hours than me, gets less sleep and less time with her family, saves frantically, and spends strategically. My next question is: “am I willing to do what she does in order to have what she has?” If the answer is yes, I pursue it and ask for her help so that I can learn from her. If the answer is no, I pray for her continued success and thank God for my own. There is no room for jealousy when you think in this way.

It’s easy to look at what other people have and wonder why we don’t have the same. It’s easy to claim that everyone else is lucky, and that we’ve been dealt a losing hand. It’s easy to say, “oh, if only I was… this and that.” It is easy and entirely flawed judgment.

If something seems to come easily to others but appears impossible for you, I guarantee that you are not seeing the full picture. It detracts from the achievements of your friends and family when you assume they did not have to work hard for their lot in life. It makes them feel undervalued and misunderstood. However, arguably more importantly, it detracts from your own self-worth when you act with jealousy and envy. These two emotions leave very little room for pride, self-love, and growth.

Shed them immediately.

The jealous and envious cannot generate good luck for themselves. They are too busy wishing, consciously or subconsciously, ill-luck on others. Remember, whatever we put out into the world, we receive back two-fold. If you send out “bad vibes” or energies to your friends, you are the one who will suffer the consequences.

We have all felt jealous at one time or another. The important thing is how we react. Do we accept the jealousy and give it shelter in our spirit, or do we kick it to the curb? You are the master of your own destiny, so the choice is yours.

In the comments, share your experience with jealousy. If it was your own, how did you manage it? What would you do differently next time, if anything? If it was directed towards you, how did you deal with it?

And remember… we design our own luck!

M.

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