January is a time of year that is often tinged with mixed emotions and feelings. There is optimism and excitement over what’s to come coupled with a little envy or regret that we haven’t made as much progress as those around us.
A few months ago I was listening to The Lively Show Podcast where Jess interviewed Adam Braun who is the founder of Pencils of Promise. He mentioned that he tries to feel genuinely happy and excited for other people rather than the commonly felt envy or sadness. For many people, a great example of this is travel. It’s easy to feel envious when we see friends or even perfect strangers visiting exciting places on instagram while we find ourselves at home going through a daily routine that may seem boring in comparison. Can you relate? If so, keep reading.
I recently read an amazing book called, The Book of Joy. It was quite long, but worth reading every page and in the book there were some great examples and tips for combating envy in our daily lives. As the book mentions…
The 3 Main Ways to Combat Envy are…
We always have a choice when it comes to how we respond in a situation and this is where the idea of re-framing can be incredibly helpful. Instead of setting us off on a path to despair, what if we used the situation to spur us on towards our own next adventure. The idea is to appreciate the other person’s experience and by doing so to bring ourselves a feeling of joy and peace of mind.
For example, the next time that you see a beautiful photo that at first incites envy…take a moment to instead think about the best adventure or experience that you’ve had. As much as you might envy the trips and travels that someone else has had, they might envy the experiences that you have had just as much.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you probably know that gratitude is one of my favorite topics to talk about. I’ve found both in my own life and through observations and research that by far, gratitude is one of the simplest and most effective ways to increase your overall quality of life and to also rid yourself of envy.
Why is this? Well, if you’re thinking about ways or things that you are grateful for then you are not focusing on areas of lack or comparing yourself to those around you. I’ve also found that once you develop a practice of gratitude in your life, it’s much easier to course correct when you do stumble and encounter fear or envy.
So, how is envy positive? It’s often a clear signal of what we want more of in our own lives. For example, if your friend shares with you that she was just accepted into grad school…take a moment and think about why you might be jealous. Is it because you’ve been wanting to go to grad school too but have been putting off the application process….or maybe you don’t necessarily need an entirely new degree but you would like to take a class online or pursue a new side project?
Regardless of the situation, use it as a learning experience.
How to incorporate this into your life today?
- Start a gratitude practice: Write down 3 things you are grateful for. Try to make it a weekly practice. For example, every Sunday afternoon or evening start your week by writing down 3-5 things that you are grateful for from the previous week.
- Re-frame the situation: Appreciate the other persons experience and do your best to feel genuine joy for them. It might not come naturally at first but give it time.
- Motivation for the future: Think of the last situation that made you envious and take a new minutes to think about why you were envious? What is the teachable moment that you could gain from it?