Lousy Jealousy

How shaming and jealousy work against us in our daily lives.


Jealousy is all the fun you think they had.
— Erica Jong

Have you ever had this experience?

You get to talk to one of your heroes and you feel like blurting out “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy!”. Yet somehow you manage to not be completely awkward and carry on a conversation.

Then they say something about themselves that shatters your illusion and makes you respect them even more for actually being human.

Well, something like this happened recently. I was talking to an author whose books I love. He mentioned Jon Ronson’s “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” and I told him to read it ASAP because it was just “soooo good!”.

Read. It. Now!

A couple of days later he was talking about how he’d started to look back at when he published his book on creativity and another book on the subject had come out around the same time.

The book in question was Jonah Lehrer’s “Imagine: How Creativity Works”. He confessed that he felt jealous over how Lehrer was the darling while his efforts weren’t being recognized in the same way.

It later turned out that Lehrer had falsified quotations and the book contained some inaccuracies. As a result it was withdrawn from publication. This event was mentioned in Jon Ronson’s book because of the public shaming Lehrer had to go through.

Hey, it’s still a good read despite the inaccuracies! I stand by my 4 star rating.

Here’s a guy whose books I love and that has helped me and countless others get over their assumptions about what creativity is and how it works, admitting that he was jealous of somebody else’s success. To be honest, until that minute I’d been jealous of him.

I didn’t take the opportunity to ask him if that jealousy made him more motivated to outshine Lehrer on the next one or if it deflated him.

Another question that comes to mind is whether or not he actually enjoyed or participated in the shaming of Lehrer. He had, however, a couple of days earlier shamed a company that he said he regretted doing.

All I know from following his work is that he’s skeptical of whether or not we’re getting any use of the science Lehrer presented in his book or not.

I’m personally in the camp that believes there’s a great deal we can learn and apply if we understand how our bodies and minds work. It excites me to get put some meat on what’s considered ancient wisdom.

Now playing: Eerie music by Tangerine Dream

My belief is that we’re only operating at a certain level because being a human doesn’t come with an instruction manual. We have to learn as we go along. If we can gain new knowledge and understand how to put our bodies and minds to good use we’re more likely to create more and better lives for ourselves and others.

Simply put, we’ll learn how to be more creative. The trick is to convert that knowledge into action.

I have never been jealous. Not even when my dad finished fifth grade a year before I did.
— Jeff Foxworthy

The thing that inspired me to write this was actually something the author said about realizing that you really need to play the “long game”.

If we compare our 1st step to someone else’s 10th then we’re not going to have a good time.

The way we can turn it into a force for good is to go: “Alright, how do I get there? What can I learn from what that person did?” and hunting for those answers while at the same time understanding that we’re on a different path and we’ll hit obstacles and face challenges that are unique to us.

It made me think of some great video essays by Adam Westbrook (http://www.adamwestbrook.co.uk/) on Leonardo da Vinci that you can watch below.

Who have you been jealous of? Did it deflate you or pump you up? Leave a comment or hit me up on twitter.

Have a beautiful & creative day!


Originally published at blog.zacscy.com on April 5, 2015.

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