November 12

The Idiocy of Jealousy

November 12, 2014

Personal Growth

We commonly lose our tenuous happiness to a condition called jealousy:

“He gets more attention than I do.”

“Everywhere I go, I see couples who look so happy. I've been married twice, and both times were a disaster. Why do they get to be happy, while I’m miserable?”

“When I go on Facebook, my friends look so happy and like they’re having fun. Vacations, weddings, parties. It just makes me feel bad about myself.”

“She’s learning and growing so much faster than I am.”

“Everybody got invited to that party, but I never got an invitation.”

“She has such a great body. Every guy in the room salivates when she comes in. Why couldn't I have gotten that?”

“It seems like he has all the money in the world, but he certainly hasn't done anymore to earn it than me or anybody else. He got it from his parents and a bit of luck.”

When trying to overcome a pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving that doesn't contribute to our happiness, it can be very helpful to identify the truth about it: what is it, what does it say about us, and what effects does it have?

1. No gratitude. When we’re jealous, we’re not grateful at all, because in the moment we’re jealous we’re thinking only about what we DON’T have, rather than what we do have—the definition of gratitude. So, jealousy and the lack of gratitude are terrible conditions, because gratitude is essential to happiness. We simply can’t be grateful and unhappy at the same time. People who learn how to be grateful are consistently happier—much happier—than those who are not. For more on the basics of gratitude, and how to learn it, click here .

2. Insane comparison. When you’re jealous, you're trying to compare apples and elephants. You are a product of an intricate, complicated, and unknowable mixture of DNA, epigenetic effects, spiritual factors, parenting, years of experience—conscious and not—and more. You are an astonishingly unique aggregation of factors, so you couldn't possibly compare yourself to anyone else. You’re too different from others to make a comparison, and jealousy requires comparison. You're not them. They're not you.

3. You're forgetting the love you do have. You're actually throwing it in the garbage and wishing you could have what somebody else has.

4. You're wishing for something you know NOTHING about. We compare ourselves to rich people, talented people, married people, whatever, when we don't know a thing about them. I have vast experience getting to know intimately the people everybody else is jealous of, and it turns out that those people’s lives are almost always a complete sham. The rich and beautiful people are rarely happy, even though they're experts at pretending to be happy everywhere they go.

5. Waste of life. The greatest possible goal of our lives is to be profoundly and consistently peaceful and happy, but jealousy fills us with resentment, regret, comparative emptiness, anger, criticism, self-disgust, victimhood, and more. In short, when we’re jealous, we’re miserable and wasting our lives. How tragic.

Don’t waste your life being jealous of anyone about anything. Jealousy makes us unhappy every time, so why engage in an activity that is guaranteed to ruin our search for joy? Find the love you need, trust it, remember it, and share it. And then you’ll be happy, and any need for jealousy will evaporate.

Don't know where to start?

Start here:

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