What comes to mind? Controlling spouses. Green-eyed monster. Destroyer of good moods and stable friendships.
I like jealousy.
Let me explain. I do not particularly like the experience of being jealous, but I am super grateful for how useful this emotion can be. Jealousy is not a vague emotion like anxiety can be (that nonspecific knot in your stomach, the general sense of doom). I appreciate the clean direction – it shoots like an arrow.
Not the wrath you may feel if your significant other expresses interest in another person, but rather… envy.
I want his car. I want her husband. No confusion.
You may thrash around, wondering WHY you are jealous of someone or something. But there is no confusion.
Who are you jealous of?
This question comes up in a number of my conversations lately.
Explore that thread, follow the string – you will discover what you want, who you want, where you want to be, and what you want to do.
On the flip side, consider someone in a position of power, or great life circumstances, that you are not jealous of. Why not? What is the difference?
An exchange with a friend.
– I am jealous of other people all the time.
– Not all people though.
– No, not all.
– How about Lady Gaga? Are you jealous of her?
– No. [no hesitation in his voice]
– How come? She has many desirable attributes – fame, money, youth, looks.
– Too much attention. I do not want fame.
– Great observation.
The exchange continues…
– Who ARE you jealous of?
– My best friend.
– She does whatever she wants whenever she wants. She loves her job.
– So, what does she do? What is her job?
– She travels around the world. She is a sales person for a pharmaceuticals company.
– You want to travel around the world and sell pharmaceuticals?
– Umm. No.
– Ok, then, what?
– It’s how she goes about it. She has freedom in her life. And joy. I want that.
We often end up feeling jealous and resentful when we compare ourselves to others. I remember opening a newspaper few years back, and feeling a sharp bolt of jealousy shoot through my gut, as I stared at the face of a former classmate. A well-known chef. Big photo.
Did I want to be a chef?
But there was something there.
Ah. External validation of one’s achievements.
Here it is.
Now, your turn. Next time, you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone, experiencing that feeling of jealousy – nod, and smile. Then pay attention – what is your jealousy telling you?