Friday 31 July 2015

How to ditch envy for good

Let me tell you an uncomfortable truth: I used to be a jealous person. Not jealous in the romantic sense, as in being worried about my partner's female friends and/or exes - that never bothered me much. I was jealous of other people's lives

You see, even when I thought that I was happy where I was at, I still worried about other people being happier; I was sure I could do better. 

I envied everyone: The newly engaged co-worker (I never got proposed to like that). 
The wedding of a friend (my wedding wasn't as good as that). 
The pregnant person in front of me at the supermarket checkout who was just congratulated on her pregnancy: "That's so exciting! You must be thrilled! What a special time!" (I didn't even know if I wanted to be pregnant, but the attention was sure nice).
The girl hanging out in a big group all the time and posting all these fun photos.

I felt inferior to all of them.
First I thought I wanted those exact things: The well thought-out engagement surprise and the big ring; the huge wedding; the pregnancy; being part of a big group. But upon closer reflection I realized that I would never change our lovestory for any other; that a big wedding would stress me out way too much; that I don't want to be pregnant; that I I crave alone time more than anything and find having too many people around me to be very exhausting.

Once I had gotten thus far, the question remained: Why was I experiencing envy?
The answer was very surprising.
I didn't want to live those lives. What I wanted was to fit in. What they all had in common was that they did things in what I perceived to be "the right way". And my story wasn't like that. I felt like an outsider, and nobody likes that feeling. All I wanted was to be "normal". (Or so I thought.)

I believe that envy is less about wanting the things the other person has and more about our own insecurity. 

In our quest for happiness we are looking for clues all around us. Your neighbour just bought a brand new car, and he looks pleased - maybe if I buy one, I will feel better too?
Your friend treated herself to the latest Michael Kors handbag, and all your friends are oohing and aahing over it, admiring it - and by extension, her? Suddenly you want one too, to feel the warm glow of admiration.  
Your co-worker broke off her long term relationship and is now going out every night, flirting and having fun -  maybe that's better than sticking it out with your guy who you have been fighting with so much lately?

The root of envy is that we compare our inside with other people's outside. We take what we see on social media and what people tell us at face value. But it never shows us the complete picture. Everybody censors their stories, glossing over the ugly parts and emphasizing the good ones. We all do it; it's human nature.

I was determined to get past my feelings of envy. It is an ugly emotional state that doesn't get you anywhere. It makes you unhappy, dissatisfied, and angry.

Here are the steps that helped me ditch envy for good:

1. Make a list. 
First, I wrote down everything that I want in life. This may take a while - it's actually not that easy to figure oneself out! I included everything from tangible goals (learn how to do a handstand) to loftier ones (publish a book). It's also helpful to visualize your future: What would your perfect life look like in one year? Five? Ten? Once you have written it all down, you will realize that some of the things you were jealous of aren't even important to you.

2. Realize that you can't buy happiness. 
If having lots of stuff would make you happy, we North Americans should be the happiest people on the planet. We have so much crap! But as you probably know, it doesn't work that way. Quite the contrary: The more you have, the more you want. There is always the next iPhone, the next fashion trend, a bigger TV. It's a race that can't be won, and if you want to participate you will never reach the finish line. Don't get me wrong, I like material things too. Of course I do! But don't let them control you. Instead of following trends, develop your own style. That way other people's stuff won't even faze you.

3. Celebrate success. 
Celebrating your own success? Easy-peasy. But here is the twist: Learn to celebrate other people's success. What I found to be essential in overcoming envy was realizing that another person's success doesn't take anything away from me. It's tempting to be jealous of  the uber-successful blogger (why aren't I as successful?) or the newbie-yogi who can slide effortlessly into poses that I struggle with.
However, if you change your attitude just a bit you can see it in a completely new light: If they can do it, so can you! There is a joy to be found in being happy for others that will push envy right out of your life. Remember: There is room for all of us to be successful.

4. Document your happy moments. 
Sometimes you need to take a step back and look at your life from the outside. That's what we do with other lives every single day, so why not do it with our own? I first noticed that when I started blogging. Sharing bits and pieces of my life made me realize how great it actually is. Instead of being consumed with the inner voices of doubt and envy, I saw what my life looks like to other people. What an eye opener! We tend to focus on the negative more than the positive, and let the happy moments slip through our fingers. I discovered that by writing down and photographing my happy moments, I found a new appreciation and gratitude for my life.

5. Find inner peace.
This is my yogi talking, but please bear with me for a moment. Finding peace and tranquility within yourself is the key to a happy life. This is definitely a work in progress, and can take a while.
But I believe that with inner peace, feelings of jealousy, envy and resentment simply disappear.
How do you find your inner peace?
Here is the recipe:

Do what you love, and do it often.
If you don't like something, change it.
If you don't like your job, quit.
If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV.
If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.
Stop over analyzing, all emotions are beautiful.
When you eat, appreciate every last bite.
Life is simple.
Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences.
Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them.
Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.
Some opportunities only come once, seize them.
Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating.
Life is short.
Live your dream, and wear your passion.
(The Holstee Manifesto)  

Do you have any more tricks that helped you get rid of envy? Please share in the comments!

Have a great weekend everyone! It's a long one in Canada, yay! :-)


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