After quitting law, I went for celebratory drinks with a friend. Discussing plans for my future, I searched for the words to explain how I wanted my life to change.
“I want to build a life that, if I overheard someone at the pub describing it, I would be Kermit-green with envy.”
It’s not that I want other people to envy me – I wanted my life to be so rad that I’d be envious of myself. This means living according to my values, including freedom, adventure, growth and doing something meaningful.
Today, my life mostly fits that bill, but I still definitely get envious of others. Especially in this social media-saturated existence, the opportunities to envy are endless.
Envy is a sign of dissatisfaction with who or where you are. If you let it, it makes you negative, judgy, and resentful towards whoever you envy. It can get nasty – shit can escalate quickly.
So how do you turn envy into something positive?
See envy as a little alert – !!! – that you want something you don’t currently have.
(1) Drop the comparison.
“My life is not good enough, because I’m not as successful/ pretty/ smart/ talented as that person.” Familiar? Sometimes this stuff is so subtle we don’t even consciously register it, but we are constantly being pushed to compare ourselves. It makes us insecure and more susceptible to advertising.
Comparing yourself to others is a no-win situation; it’s based on all kinds of assumptions. Instagram posts are not reality, they are manufactured snapshots of how we want to be perceived. The person behind the post might be insecure, unhappy, afraid. And even if they are not, there is usually nothing to be gained by comparing your life to theirs! But sometimes there is…
(2) Use your envy as inspiration.
Get specific about what you envy. Money? A six-pack? Someone’s fame? Check in with reality. Maybe you’re actually ok with your financial situation, maybe your non-six-pack is totally acceptable, maybe fame sucks ass. But if you genuinely want to earn more, or feel healthier, or become renowned for what you do, pursue that.
Right now I feel strong envy for friends who have a solid home base. Visiting homeware stores makes me green: I want throw rugs, vases and cute succulents, too!
So I’m channeling that energy into a mental moodboard – what do I want my place to look like? Where should it be? By when do I want this, and what do I have to do to make it happen?
Using envy positively shifts your perspective. It helps you move from powerless to powerful.