Using envy as a guide

I was reading a post on Martina Johansson blog (about health, diet, exercise och personal development) that she’s written about envy. In many ways it’s a destructive emotion that leads to negativity and the lack of happiness for other people due to the intense feelings of unfairness and a person having something you want but you feel you can’t get. But if you dig a bit deeper and realize what envy is trying to tell you it can be turned into a very useful tool.

First off I think you need to clarify the difference between envy and jealousy that makes the latter a purely negative emotion while envy can be used in your favor.

Envy is when you want something someone else has (two parties) while jealousy is being worried about someone trying to take what you already have (three parties).

So how to make what envy is telling you useful? First of all you must take control of the negative spin that envy creates in you and be happy for the other person, especially if it is a friend.

He who envies others do not obtain peace of mind – Buddha

When you remove the negative emotions you can start to listen to what envy is actually telling you. Here’s where step two comes in which is: to use the feeling for goal planning!

If you don’t really know what your goals are or what you want: perfect! Start listening to envy (without negativity!) because it’s telling you what you desire. Why would you otherwise have reacted so STRONGLY?

  • Do you get amazingly envious when looking at photos of people abroad, wishing you were spread out on a beach somewhere? You probably value travel very highly.
  • You can’t stand your friend talking about her amazing job? Maybe you’re not too happy with your own job and should start looking for other jobs. Same if you are envious of your friend who has time for a life after work while you slave away at your desk all evening.
  •  Are you envious of a particular skill, for example wanting to play guitar as good as Jimi Hendrix? Sing like Beyoncé? Maybe you should start taking lessons to meet you desire of being great at guitar or singing. 
  • Do you get the most envious when you read a celebrity blog and want to be as rich as them? Money is a driver for you and maybe looking it to saving money and how you can earn more money to increase your sense of freedom.
  • Does envy make you want to punch fit and strong people in the face because you want nothing more than to look like them? A lifestyle change concerning diet and exercise might be in order to get you closer to what you want. 

Martina recommends doing an “envy mapping” to map your true goals and not the goals that you randomly made up or that you think you “should” have. You can also rank them (which things makes you the most envious?). Having a strong drive towards a goal makes it much easier to accomplish it. Good luck 🙂


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