How to Stop Feeling Jealous of Other People’s Success

A lesson I learned from my kids that is relevant to us all

Photo by Limor Zellermayer on Unsplash

If you are a parent, you must have been in this situation a million times.

One of your kids is playing with his toy, deeply concentrated on what he is doing.

Suddenly, your other kid plunges down and grabs the toy away.

The next thing that happens is obviously a piercing wail, crying, and possibly a violent attempt to redeem the toy.

This prevalent sight is not only annoying to parents but also quite symbolic of our lives as adults too.

To put it simply, we get jealous.

We feel envious of others for their success, or for having something we want and don’t have.

And it makes us feel awful!

So awful that some people get downright depressed from flipping through other people’s profiles on social media.

So how can we change that?

What I learned from My Kids

What I noticed with my kids is that it’s never really about the toy itself.

If one of my kids surrenders his toy to their demanding sibling, it’s very interesting to see that the fuss about the toy disappears very quickly.

In a matter of minutes, the initial excitement is gone and the toy is forsaken for a new pursuit.

What I understood is, that what my kids are really after is not the toy at all!

They want to feel the same sense of enjoyment that their sibling is experiencing.

They think that if they play with that toy, they will also enjoy themselves.

What we need to do is to show them that they can find a different toy and experience just as much joy.

Consistently teaching your kids to focus on what is available to them to find happiness, will teach them that they CAN live their lives enjoying what they have, and what they are doing.

Their little bouts of envy during childhood can make for good opportunities to talk about their feelings and learn to work with them correctly.

Gradually we can teach them how to choose their goals, not by comparing themselves to others who are different from them and may have different traits and circumstances, but by being all that they can be.

When Our Inner Child Is Envious

Even as adults, we have the same problem. We see that writer with tens of thousands of claps or someone who is making the money we wish we could make, and it makes us feel bad.

And this is the moment for us to remember that we don’t want to be THEM, we want to be who WE are, and to be certain that who we are is just as good and valuable.

We need to remember that we have our own special path and our own challenges to overcome, and no one else’s success can stand in the way of us becoming the best WE can be.

If anything, it can only give us the encouragement and motivation to fulfill ourselves.

The Antidote to Envy

Ultimately, we want to teach our kids to share and play together with others.

We want to show them that by cooperating with other kids, and inviting them to play, they avoid the conflict and gain the enjoyment of having play partners.

And it’s the same for us.

The safest way for us adults to find our sense of joy, is together with others, or by giving value to others.

When we succeed in a way that truly helps and nourishes other people, it doesn’t draw the negative form of envy but rather a sense of support and agreement with our cause.

That is the safest form of joy.

So don’t try to copy anyone else, find out who YOU are, be the best you can be and take joy in contributing to the well-being of others.

With this sort of attitude, you’ll find there is more than enough to go around for everyone to enjoy.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +418,678 people.

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