I’m so happy for you! Or am I?

I’m not sure how this idea came about but it’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot. I feel like we live in such a pro-positivity society, a way of thinking I readily subscribe to, that being negative or even a little angry can make people look at you funny. Today my yoga teacher was telling me how she had an argument with a student in one of her classes and asked her to leave the class because “I didn’t want that kind of negative energy in my class”. I really do believe in energy and the quality of energy which is why when I find myself being negative about a particular thing in my life, it makes me stop and think.

Envy. This is not something we talk about. Being envious or jealous is considered weak and even shameful, it means that you are inferior, insecure, hostile and of course- negative. It’s one of those things that we assume everyone feels but will never really know because I think the last thing anyone will ever admit is that they are envious of someone else. Research does suggest that we compare ourselves to others all the time, whether it’s a model on the cover of a magazine or a best friend. We use others as a gauge to how well we are doing in life, which is weird but also shows what a deeply knit and interconnected culture we live in.

When I was younger I was envious of everyone and everything. I think this stems from a serious case of insecurity and just a factor of being a gawky teenager. As I grew up and became more comfortable with myself, the relativity of someone else’s successes became apparent which made envy easier to deal with. I don’t think anyone feels they’ve truly succeeded at being a human and we’re constantly striving to do better. We tend to be harder on ourselves than an outsider would so when we see what we imagine to be the perfect life, we may feel like we are doing something wrong. Perhaps envy should not be seen as one not wanting something good for another person, but simply wanting something good for themselves as well.

I definitely feel joy and happiness when people close to me have good experiences and being happy for others actually increases our own happiness levels, which is a win-win. However, I dislike the fact that at times when I hear about how someone nagged a great new job or was able to reach an incredible goal, the first thing I think about is where I am in my life. Although this is never something I’d ever say out loud, I feel we are constantly comparing ourselves to those around us.

No matter how much we progress and how far technology goes, we will never actually be able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to feel exactly what they do. And envy is one of those things that I feel is difficult to have an honest and open conversation about, the only way it is possible to understand how someone else feels. So is this one of those things that is unique to me or does everyone experience envy from time to time, maybe even at really inappropriate times?

Perhaps we incorrectly assume that it is natural to feel happy for others all the time. I believe that it’s something that requires practice and honesty, about yourself and those around you. The happier we are with our own lives, the easier it will be to accept and appreciate the happiness of others. Feeling joy is always a positive experience so if you can do this by virtue of someone else’s position then I guess it shouldn’t be that difficult?

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