Your roommate is happily tapping away on her expensive tablet while you have to trek to the library to send an email. She's stoked about her upcoming winter break in Colorado, while you're wondering how to afford the gas to get back home. In such circumstances, it's difficult to maintain a sense of perspective, but when you recognize jealousy for the beast it is, you can work to rein in its influence on your life.
Let Jealousy Improve You
Let your envy fuel self-improvement, advises Juliana Brienes, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology, quoted in the article "5 Steps to Stop Being Jealous of Someone Else's Success" on the Inc.com website. Instead of focusing your feelings toward your friend and her ability to enjoy spring break in the Cayman Islands, look at her as a representative of the possibilities that are available to you in life. If you desire more money and options, let her lifestyle inspire you to set goals and make a plan to get what you want.
Look at the Big Picture
When you envy someone, you aren't seeing the whole picture, says Brienes. It's easy to think that your roommate with the $80,000 car has it made, but you only see the part of him that he chooses to present to the world. What you don't know is that he might have grown up in an abusive home, have difficulty reading or struggle with an anxiety disorder. When you consider that everyone takes part in suffering, your wealthy friend included, you'll find it easier to let go of envy.
Encourage Your Friends
Even though you're sick with envy over your friend's ability to walk into the most expensive department store in town and walk out with a $500 dress, push past your feelings and concentrate on simply being a good friend. Wish your friend well and you'll turn your negative attitude around, says psychiatry professor Judith Orloff, in the Psychology Today article "Are You a Comparison Junkie?" The next time the two of you are shopping, grab that flattering red blouse off the rack and let her know you think it would look fabulous on her. The pleasure she feels at your camaraderie will fuel a positive interaction that leaves no room for envy.
Don't fall into the trap of comparing yourself to your wealthy friends. You'll change your mindset when you concentrate on what you have, says Orloff. The next time you catch yourself thinking, "Oh, I'll never be able to afford that" when your friend ditches the dorm for a spacious luxury apartment, remind yourself of the great camaraderie you have with your dorm buddies and how much you enjoy the late night talks and popcorn parties . Accept that you and your wealthy friend have differences, and you'll find it easier to concentrate on what you have in common.
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