In the age of Instagram—when everyone’s life looks shiny and perfect—it’s natural to feel jealous of other people’s careers. But you might be surprised that you can take that unpleasant emotion and tap into it in a positive way.
Research shows that there are two kinds of jealousy.
Malicious jealousy is when you have destructive feelings about someone (jealous of that woman’s career to the point where you hope she spills her hot coffee all over her cute new shoes). Benign jealousy is the kind of jealousy that makes you think about your own life and changes you’d like to make.
The right kind of jealousy can actually help you get what you want. Benign jealousy spurs self-reflection in a positive way. Do you ever find that someone you’re jealous of can also be a source of inspiration? That’s the sweet spot. It’s a positive thing when jealousy goes beyond just pity party comparing and spurs inspiration and (importantly) action.
Jealousy can help you get clear on how you want to grow but only if you get specific! What is it exactly about this person that makes you jealous? What do they do or have that you want? Jealousy isn’t really about the other person it’s always about us. When I was a professor and miserable in my job I was jealous of entrepreneurs and all the freedom they had. A clue for me! Maybe a person you’re jealous of is really good at something you struggle with; perhaps that tells you that you want to master that particular skill. Get specific about what exactly you’re jealous of, figure out what it’s telling you about yourself, and take action.
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