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When You Envy and Compare

The definition of envy is: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck. When defined it sounds pretty extreme but in reality this feeling is all too common. When is the last time you felt envious or found that you were comparing yourself to someone else? Maybe today when you were on Facebook and saw photos of that kid you went to elementary school with on vacation in Bali, lounging on the beach without a care in the world. Or maybe when that car you wish you could afford cut you off on the freeway. Or when you were at that party last night and your gregarious outgoing friend charmed everyone in the room while you stood by silently and watched. Or maybe when you see the other trainers at the gym you work at effortlessly attracting new clients and you can’t seem to get one.

The nature of our lives involves interacting with other people and their things. We drive past other houses in other neighborhoods; we are inundated with media images of other’s bodies and items that others own that we think we should own. And with the spread of social media we are now able to view photos inviting us into the highlight reels of other’s lives. The resulting envy that arises may become so automatic that we don’t even notice it happening, we just notice the aftermath of feeling depressed, down on our self, or less than.

A good friend of envy is comparison. When we envy what others have or are, we are essentially comparing ourselves to that person. The dictionary defines compare as: estimate, measure, or note the similarity or dissimilarity between. It would be impossible to go through life and not compare ourselves to others (noticing similarities or dissimilarities); however, when we use comparison as a “measure” of who we are, our status in life or our value, that is when it can become harmful.

If you find yourself envying others, and comparing yourself to them in a way that brings you down, then you are looking at things with a “lack” mentality. You are seeing what they have or are, and then equating that to what you don’t have or are not, or what you “should” be. And if you frequently feel that you are lacking, you will continue to see more evidence of this surrounding you. It is a vicious cycle.

What to do instead:

There will always be someone with a life we judge as better than ours. There will always be someone who is more attractive, has a bigger butt, is smarter, wealthier, younger, a better writer etc. And I would never suggest you try not to be envious, because that would be resisting or denying what is innate within you. Instead, when you notice the envy rising within you, shift from a “lack” mentality to an “abundance” mentality.

This means that instead of using the amazing qualities you see in others to bring you down and make you feel not good enough, use these observations to inspire you, motivate you or lead you to feeling positive. View the guy at the gym that can bench press more than you as helping you to set a goal for yourself. Use the house you drive by on your way to work every morning that you would love to live in one day to remind you of your vision, what you are working towards, and to better understand what it is that you desire for your future. Think of your friend who just sold a script as proof that it can happen, and therefore it is possible for you too.

And what if you find yourself observing someone who you will never be like or look like? Practice the art of appreciating what you admire in that 20-year-old girl in line in front of you. See the beauty in her and notice how it actually feels good to acknowledge and appreciate beauty, in any form, when you aren’t measuring yourself against it. It doesn’t have to take away from all that you are. This is the same as when you see a stunning sunset. You are not envious of the sunset for being a magnificent orange color that you could never be. You simply stop and take it in, and feel good that you are enjoying a beautiful moment.

When you shift to an “abundance” mentality, you start to see more evidence of abundance surrounding you. Abundance comes in many different forms such as beauty, generosity, love, money, growth, laughter, help etc. How often do you notice these forms on a daily basis?

The world can be a reflection of how little you have and how little you are, or it can be a playground for reveling in the beauty within yourself and surrounding yourself. You choose.

If you’re interested in understanding more about your envy or tendency to compare yourself to others please email me at

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