Envy is a universal emotion. All of us have experienced it at some time in our lives. You may feel envious when your friend scores better than you in class tests or gets a promotion you desperately needed.
In general, we become envious when good things happen to others and not to ourselves. We can’t come to terms with the fact that they are leading a better life than us. This makes us upset and unhappy. But is this the way to lead our lives? No, this isn’t what Zen masters advise.
Why we become envious
Envy almost always stems from feelings of disappointment and helplessness. We think highly of ourselves and believe that we deserve the best. So when the best things happen to others, we become disappointed. We start assuming that life isn’t fair at all. But this doesn’t help us in any way. Blaming ourselves or others will not make us happy or successful.
Envy is a negative feeling…
When we become envious of others or their success, they don’t lose anything. It does not affect them at all, but it takes your attention away from things that truly matter to you. When you are envious of your colleague who got a raise or a promotion, you will not be able to focus on your work. Unfortunately, this will further reduce your chances of finding success at the workplace.
I’m not saying that I’m immune to feelings like envy or disappointment. I have experienced them from time to time. But over the years, I have learned to conquer these negative emotions. Now I have the motivation to reduce stress and find happiness. Here’s how I accomplished it (and you can too).
Focus on yourself
When we harbor negative emotions towards others, we are exhausting ourselves. Negativity weighs a ton – don’t hold it. It wouldn’t improve your life in any way, but your negative vibes will repel good people.
To rid yourself of envy and to find the motivation to reduce stress, you have to change the way you approach a situation. You have to understand that certain things are outside your control. You can’t stop your neighbor from working hard, but you can try to work harder than them. Yes, you CAN change your life, but if you spend too much time and energy on another person’s achievements, you will not have a lot of energy left to work on building your future. So, forget about them and their achievements and explore ways to improve your life. When you are busy with your own stuff, you will not have time to be envious.
Life isn’t a bed of roses
You log into Facebook and find that your feed is full of photos posted by your friends. Some of them have just returned from a foreign vacation. Some others have bought new cars or homes. None of these good things have happened to you. And that realization makes you upset and angry.
Well, things are not what they seem to be. Your friends aren’t happier than you. They have problems just like you. They hide it and showcase the best aspects of their lives. Don’t compare your life to someone else’s. The Zen mind wouldn’t do it. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side, but that is not quite the case.
Accept the ups and downs of life
When someone leapfrogs over you, you might feel that you are falling behind in spite of your best efforts. But you are far from the truth. Life has its ups and downs – you can’t be winning all the time. Neither can others. But if you constantly focus on improving your life, the long-term trend is more likely to be upward.
Though envy is a natural phenomenon, it is unproductive. It makes you feel helpless. When you begin to control your life and take measures to improve it, you will have fewer reasons to be envious of others.
Make learning an integral part of your life. Try to learn from others’ successes and failures. Apply that knowledge to your life. Knowledge and the wisdom that you gain from it will always stand you in good stead.
Photo Source: geralt