Envy is a weird emotion.
We all want what we don’t have to some extent. We envy someone’s career, happy family, or oversized closet.
And envy is most often viewed as a bad thing- It’s one of the seven deadly sins after all…
Defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage,” the feeling of envy was dubbed the “the most potent cause of unhappiness” by the British philosopher Bertrand Russel.
But if we look at our feelings of envy from a different angle, without the discontentment or resentment or lack of feeling gratitude for our own lives, is there something we can gain?
Step one: Name the object(s) of your envy.
Who do you envy?
My first object of envy is Emily Giffin. She’s a fellow Wake Forest grad, went to UVA Law and worked in big law for 5 years before quitting to pursue her passion to write full-time. Now, she is the author of 9 best-selling novels, including Something Borrowed (which is now a major motion picture), and her newest and my personal favorite, All We Ever Wanted.
Step 2: Why are you envious?
Sure, her home is beautiful, and don’t we all want to be financially successful, happily married with three kids, a golden retriever and a rescue pup. But what I envy most about her is just the awareness and courage to know what you want and go after it.
Next up, Joanna Gaines. I know, so basic of me. I envy her less for her empire and more for her apparent work-life balance. She seems grounded and makes time in her hectic life for her family (even if it does mean taking them on the job with her) and home-cooked dinners. She even turned down Fixer Upper because it was taking too much time away from her family.
Step 3: What does your envy say about your goals?
Your envy can give you valuable insight into what your own values and goals are. For me, I know it’s important to do something I love. Whether it’s writing or helping friends navigate their own businesses, I know I have to be passionate about something to be successful. While money is important, it’s certainly not number one. It’s more important to me to put my family first, make healthy, home-cooked meals, and not let a paycheck dictate my priorities. Pinpointing what you value makes it easier to turn those goals into actions.
So, who do you envy?