Let’s talk about the experience of envy. It is just something that comes up for many of us. Especially because of social media where everyone’s life seems so perfect. The grass always looks greener and we often find ourselves envious of people who appear to have everything that we feel we lack.
“Love looks through a telescope, envy, through a microscope”.Josh Billings
Envy could arise when we bumped into an old friend who seems to be in a fabulous relationship or celebrating a huge career success. Or even simply by looking at the life of other people here on Instagram.
Envy is often rooted in skewed or exaggerated perceptions. Psychologists call this cognitive distortion when we indulge in black-and-white thinking or overgeneralization and the result is emotional suffering. The mind runs away and it is starting. “That friend of mine has the most fantastic life, I’ll never have that kind of success or happiness.” This cognitive distortion is faulty perceptions that can fester in a funk of envy, sadness, and even anger.
We would like to share a few mindfulness tips that may help:
The first is to simply become aware of physical sensations. and then label what we were experiencing as envy. It may sound easy but we rarely acknowledged to ourselves that we’re envious. By noticing and labeling, we create some distance between our sense of self and what we’re experiencing which is a significant step towards alleviating our suffering.
The second tip is to consciously challenge our distorted perceptions, remembering that things are never what they seem. Those who seem to have it all almost certainly had suffering we don’t see. Perhaps at this very moment, the person who triggered our envy is feeling envious of us or something we have that they feel they lack.
And finally, the third tool. We can work through envy with gratitude. Envy emerges when we place attention on what we don’t have. By devoting attention to the many things we do have, we invite feelings of happiness, pride, and love. There are many ways to create a gratitude practice in our lives. It can be literally anything from a gratitude jar to a gratitude journal to a gratitude buddy. Whichever method you choose, always remember that gratitude is a habit that can be cultivated with a deliberate effort.
Envy is often the result of an incomplete perspective as Josh Billings famously said: “Love looks through a telescope, envy, through a microscope”. Next time you find yourself fixated on the narrowness of lack widen here for you, shift your attention to abundance in your life – there are many things to feel grateful for.