healthy relationships

Why Jealousy Sucks

Wherever I go I meet people telling me that they wish they were in my shoes. For me, my shoes are not as comfy as they think they are, but who am I to tell them that they are gravely wrong.

So I go through life, observe other shoes, and reciprocally wish to be in them rather than in my own. Why? Simply because it is in human nature to envy what you don’t have or what you aren’t.

One day I decided to quit this unhealthy habit of mine.

I started to observe my life, my actions and intentions, and tried to be grateful for what I have.  My perception shift led to some interestingly revealing facts, that otherwise would have escaped my notice. As an English teacher I got the chance to contribute in shaping young minds, as a Business English lecturer I had the opportunity to learn from my adult students as much as I thought, as a university lecturer I experienced how it is to stand on the other side of the desk, as an English teacher for Spanish children I appreciated the wonders of sharing mutual linguistic background, as a writer I met the Holy Lady of Inspiration but I also stumbled upon the infamous Writer’s Block.

I experienced a lot, and people like stories about exploration, exciting places, meeting new people and developing own business. They like to hear heroic tales of people who made a difference or at least made an attempt to do so. If they hear a story of a failure they nod with understanding and resume to their daily habits with a sigh of relief that their life is marked by stability, but when they hear a story of success they look at the sky and tell whatever Heavenly Being they believe in that they do not bear grudge for their own misery but “God, how come that my life is so boring…”

We complain about boring, but the fact is that we like it. Boring is safe, familiar. It does not require from us any unnecessary and possibly dangerous actions to be taken. This is why people often choose to merely observe progress of some endeavour exactly for the sake of safety. They do not have to invest their time, feelings nor effort; they prefer to see the outcome and be able to gossip about it, purposefully avoiding uncomfortable topic of the whole path leading to its achievement.

Making a difference is not as difficult as starting to work hard on making it happen.  Change is not instant, and I am of belief that this fact is the biggest demotivator that keeps people from even trying. Our contemporary times cherish all that is hectic, we live in a cult of instant: Learn Spanish in 3 months, 5 quick tips to make your love life better, boost your income within a week, lose 10 kg in 5 days… we are bombarded with messages that promise us perfect solutions that are almost immediate. Obviously we do not believe all this crap, after all, we are intelligent human beings… But our brain sensors are so used to being drowned in the flood of instant solutions that long-term change is just unacceptable. We are accustomed to quick results; waiting makes people impatient.

And I don’t blame people. I’m as impatient as a person can be. My mother always told me that someday my feverish character will set fire to something. I always saw it pejoratively, I thought she meant to hurt my feelings and accuse me of being irresponsible, but I grew to see it as my chance to develop my own self and people around me in order to infect them with overwhelming love of life, to help them see that improving your life with your own actions is worth your while since it brings many profits. You cannot wait until someday some Gandalf will knock on your door and invite you to an adventure. ‘Somebody is you and someday is now,’ as we learn from a motivational speech of Principal John Tapene whose goal was to energize teenagers to engage in life as vigorously as they can. He also said that ‘the world does not owe [us] a living,’ we have to start being response-able people who can take matters in our own hands and start fighting the best fight ever: own life.

After all, isn’t it how all those great biographies started?

——-

Joanna Niechajowicz is a freelance writer who has recently started a struggle with developing a blog devoted to self-improvement (http://upwardswirl.wordpress.com/). You can also follow her on Twitter.

 

  • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

    Powerful post, Joanna. Jealousy sucks for many reasons and the biggest reasons to me seems to the self-disappointment. Often times when I’m envious of another person it is because I feel I’m lacking something or even worse, that I’m a failure in comparison.

    I sometimes long for the grand adventures of risks and large gains, but you’re right, boring is safe and familiar. People want safety and only dream of the seemingly exciting life of others.

    Well… In recent times, my life took a turn and it has gotten quite exciting, crazy, risky, etc. Everything that I thought I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I’m living the life in the shoes of those I admired and wanted so badly to emulate, but sometimes I look back to the days of safety and slowness and think was it worth bringing myself down with jealousy? The grass is always greener on the other side, but once you’re on the other side life you just have new things to be jealous of. 

    • Joanna Niechajowicz

       You are totally right, Vincent.  There is always something more to aspire for, hence jealousy will always be present in our lives. I think that sometimes it is a very powerful motivator if channeled correctly.

      I wish you all the best in your new exciting life :)

  • http://www.acalltoaction.net/ Trevor Wilson

    You’re right. Life doesn’t owe us jack. We owe life. It’s the greatest blessing, yet so many of us just sit on our ass watching it pass by . . .

    Then eye with jealousy those who are actually living theirs.

    Anyone of us has the same opportunity for living as fully as those “fortunate” few. We simply need to turn off the TV, get up off our butts, and start. 

    So start already.

    Cheers!

    • http://twitter.com/JoannaSwirl Joanna Niechajowicz

      Fear of pursuing one’s dreams can be paralyzing. Fear of making a mistake, fear of failing but most of all fear of people laughing at our edeavour, and pointing out what we did wrong. I think those are things that keep us from acting, that tie us to the chair in front of the TV.

      So, you are totally right, we have to get up and fight, because once we realise that everybody has to go through the same path of fighting tooth and nail for what one believes, it is not so scary anymore. However, still challenging as hell ;)

      • http://bestbrainfood.net/ Franklyn Anderson

        I was having trouble getting past the fear of what other people might think. Especially if they thought was i was doing was a bit out-there. It can be difficult to do it anyway, regardless. I guess what helped was accepting that some people are going to think like that no matter what and it is there problem if they can’t expand their thinking, 

        • http://twitter.com/JoannaSwirl Joanna Niechajowicz

          Very true, Franklyn. It is extremely hard to do something without 100% support of people present in your life, especially if those people are those who you hold in high regard.

          However, remaining faithful to your goals makes your success taste sweeter, and this is what I wish to you :)

  • http://www.saysaga.com/ Selim Yeniceri

    Recently somebody told me almost the same thing, Joanna. “I wish I were you!” And I said quite frankly, “If you were me, you would be either dead, or in an asylum!” Every one of us was born to follow a unique path in life. We all came here to do different things, to contribute differently. I remember a saying goes, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die!” Yes, you are right, we want quick solutions, immediate results, as if everything is so easy and quick in life. Moreover, we forget something very important quite often: it’s not what you gain in the end only, but it’s what you go through to reach that point what matters most.

    I suggest everybody to see the movie “The Edge” starred by Anthony Hopkins. It’s easy to envy rich people, and I’m not talking about the ones who inherited their fortunes, but who created it themselves. In that movie, you understand why such people are successful, and that it’s actually a matter of attitude. As Rick Pitino says, “Success is a choice!” But it comes with price! Instead of envying others for what they have, we need to focus on our own lives, and find ways to manifest our own dreams! http://www.saysaga.com

    • http://twitter.com/JoannaSwirl Joanna Niechajowicz

      I wonder if sometimes behind those words there is more to it. Usually, when you answer to such a statement, you diminish the importance of your work (i.e. “ah! It’s really nothing to translate a book”) or you disclose some awful personal fact  (i.e. “yes, I did it, but I had two nervous break-downs, and got divorced in the process”) to get the person to feel better about themselves. So maybe, next time anybody envies your fabulous life, tell him that YES! my life is fabulous, and so is yours if you make it that way… So go and fight for your success because you owe it to yourself!

      For sure, I will add “The Edge” to my to-watch list :) thank you for sharing, Selim and keep on having fab life :)

      • http://www.saysaga.com/ Selim Yeniceri

         Thanks for all the beautiful wishes, Joanna. But I think I couldn’t explain myself good enough here. When I gave that answer to that person, I also meant it as two sides of the coin. If I were in his place, I would end up same (dying or getting crazy, etc), because God or life gives us only what we can shoulder. My tests were for me; and your test is for you. What I meant was that. I didn’t mean my problems were “extremely” difficult or whatever. That’s why I believe we should focus on carrying our own load, instead of envying others. Our lives are what we make out of them. In another word, it completely depends on US!  :)

        • http://twitter.com/JoannaSwirl Joanna Niechajowicz

          You expressed yourself perfectly, Selim :) it’s just your words inspired me to ponder on the underlying intentions of a person who wants to trade shoes with somebody and the social constrains that binds people to answer in a very particular, dictated by behavioural patterns way, that I gave examples of in the previous post.

          We are programmed by the social norms to diminish our achievements and be modest. But what if people actually tried to motivate others instead of just interact according to set standards?

          • http://www.saysaga.com/ Selim Yeniceri

            I couldn’t agree more with that. Especially nowadays people have a tendency to copy success, but quickly. For instance, they see someone who makes lots of money in any profession, and they say, “oh, this profession enables you earn a lot!” What earns that much is NOT the profession, but the PERSON. It doesn’t matter what they do; they would be successful in any given profession, because it’s their attitude in life. Unless one can’t understand this, can never manifest his or her dreams into life, because they always judge success with materialistic value. In my eye, complete freedom – mentally, physically, spiritually, professionally, and financially – is a form of success.

            In my book “Life Without Complexes” (published in 2010 in Turkey, and in Turkish, but I’m planning to publish it as e-book this summer as a revisioned version and titled “Dream Tiger” in English) I mentioned this. “If you let others determine who or what you are, you can never get rid of complexes, and it’s one of the biggest obstacles you’ll ever have to face along the road to success, because then you set labels about yourself according to the standards of other people.”

            (I’m following you on Twitter by the way.)

          • http://twitter.com/JoannaSwirl Joanna Niechajowicz

             Very wise words. I especially liked your sentence about the labels – so very true and so very human. I try not to do it, but there would always be a powerful person in your life trying to convince you how to live, and it takes effort to remain true to yourself.

            I wish you all the luck with your book, and thank you for following me on Twitter :) hope to see you on some other discussion :)

  • Dominica Applegate

    I spent way too many years wishing I was in others shoes so I could have what they had, but I was really just lazy and blinded to the fact that people are successful because they work damn hard most of the time. I wanted success dropped from heaven! 
    I’m so glad i got out of that kind of mentality and have forged my own path to success!  Now I get to help others, but still, sometimes I find myself thinking that way again so I have to watch myself:) anything of value takes effort! Thanks for your post!

    Dominica

    • http://twitter.com/JoannaSwirl Joanna Niechajowicz

      Dominica, thank you for sharing this story.

      You are right that success is not effortless, but on the other hand when you finally achieve something with your own hard work it is so much more rewarding. Not only did you succeed, but also it made you feel stronger, more self-confident and prepared for next fight that life will serve you.

      Good luck on your path to success! :)

  • Mary Slagel @ShapeDaily

    Wow what a deep and inspirational post. It really got me thinking on a level I wasn’t expecting. I will always have a tinge of jealousy for those more talented than I am because I feel like I am not very talented at much. But then when that jealousy sparks, I think about all the things I can do and all the things I have and it makes me feel better. 

    • http://twitter.com/JoannaSwirl Joanna Niechajowicz

       Thank you, Mary for your nice words. It is in our human nature to be jealous, but we can channel this pejorative feeling to work for our benefit, like you have just described. You motivate yourself and you boost your self-esteem using the power of jealousy, VERY good job :)