Ever find yourself jealous at someone else’s success? Jealousy and envy aren’t necessarily evil emotions. They’re actually quite useful for confirming what’s missing in your life.
Usually you’re jealous or envious because you want something someone else has. You’re never jealous of what you don’t want, right?[i]
I’m not jealous of people who have 5 kids; because I know I could never handle parenting 5 children. But, I do walk around the bookstore with a little jealousy, because I want to be a writer. I want to be an author. I want my book published and available in all bookstores.
Every single time I read T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land or The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, I get inexcusably jealous of the perfect phrasing and brevity of eloquence that is his writing.
Whenever I read the poetry of Octavio Paz, Pablo Neruda or Evelyn Lau, my soul wilts at the inadequacy of my own writing. BUT, then I re-group, get back to work and keep on training.[ii]
Whenever I run a race, I’m always a little envious of the top finishing times, and I’m especially jealous of the women in my age group who kick my ass in the half-marathon. And don’t even get me started with women who are older than me who run faster and more efficient races than I do. Damn.
I’m jealous because I want that. I want to run faster. I want to run like a champ. But, sometimes I don’t want to train like a champ.
I’m always a little jealous when I read a perfectly crafted sentence or paragraph. I love nothing more than to read a beautifully structured piece of writing. And yeah, I’m jealous of their talent. So, then I go back to my office and write some more. And write again. Then read the dictionary. Then read and write every single day. I train every day to better my writing and speaking skills because that’s what I truly want to excel in.
When I listen to a powerful speech on YouTube or TedTalk, hell YEAH, I get jealous. And then I get to work. And I practice, I drill, I train, I give my lectures, I give my talks, and then I ask for feedback. How can I be better? How can my talks be more effective, more powerful, more memorable? And then I do it all over again.
When does jealousy come up for you?
Steven Pressfield says “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”[iii]
Resistance, jealousy, envy, procrastination, the chatter in your mind; all of it exists as a message to you. What do you want from life? Is your life meaningful?
Listen to these emotions and figure out what the message is for you.
[i] Bennett, Sam. (2014). Get it Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day. Novato, California: New World Library. (See pages 151-152.)
[ii] For my favorite poetry see T.S. Eliot Selected Poems; Evelyn Lau Oedipal Dreams and You Are Not Who You Claim; Pablo Neruda the Captain’s Verses; Octavio Paz A Draft of Shadows; Federico Garcia Lorca Selected Verse A Bilingual Edition; Leonard Cohen Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs; Richard Siken Crush; Sylvia Plath Crossing the Water and Ariel; David Rubinoff Stuck; and The Best Canadian Poetry 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.
[iii] Pressfield, Steven. (2002). The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. New York, NY: Black Irish Entertainment. LLC. (see “The Unlived Life”)