Envy is defined as resenting an advantage enjoyed by others, craving something that you don’t have but someone else does. It is a kind of admiration, an unspoken compliment.

Envy is often targeted at our peers, people in similar positions having more than we do, or enjoying life better than us. Example: A college classmate having a motorbike that you cannot afford, but would love to have.

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How to Make Envy Work For You

hbr.org

Paradoxically, envy can be educational, inspiring or instructive.

Coupled with awareness, envy can make the person observe and reflect on their emotions and understand what core message is being conveyed.

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Epictetus

“Of things, some are in our power, and others are not.”

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To make envy an inspiring, gratifying and instructive experience, we can document three things on a notepad whenever we feel the emotion: Trigger, Action and Insight.

  • Trigger: This is a crucial first step, where we note down what triggered the envy. It can be a facebook post about a new yacht an old friend bought, or a rejection, or maybe somebody’s accomplishment. We need to note down and label the emotions we experience.
  • Action: We need to decouple the person from the quality or attribute that made us envious. This can make the feeling of envy less personal. We can then ask ourselves what can we do in our lives to have that quality too?
  • Insight: We can then ask ourselves: “Would I switch places with the person I am envious of?” and mentally find out if the answer is yes or no. We sometimes value a single attribute of a person, not their entire existence.

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