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Seven tips to curb your envy

Extract from ‘Don’t Say I Never Told You’ Series 2

-A guide to life from a loving father to his millennial daughters

Envy is a major thief of joy. How often do we have pangs of envy only to find out the source of it is a person who is truly unhappy albeit with possessions and opportunities that we crave for. The ironic thing about envy is the rich suffer from envy even though they have more money than they could physically spend in a sensible way. For them, every time they see another, richer person, they feel inadequate, which is great for super yacht builders.

Let’s make one thing clear. Envy is the desire for what others have leading to discontent and resentment. There is a lot to be envious about: money, work status, relationships, fertility, lifestyle, possessions, attractiveness, weight and social media profile. It’s no wonder envy was one of Pope Gregory’s list of the seven deadly sins.

Jealousy and envy while growing from the same tree are different. Jealousy typically exists within the context of relationships. It is the fear of losing what you already have and want to keep. I wish to focus on envy here as it occurs much more often in our lives.

Causes of envy include:


  1. Dissatisfaction with one’s self. When you become envious, it is often due to some degree of dissatisfaction with one’s self. Your unmet needs spread a virus of unhappiness.

  2. Comparison to others. Many of us were conditioned, at an early age, to evaluate ourselves through the comparison to others, rather than looking back at our progress. We feel envy when they are promoted quicker, are known better, have higher qualifications.

  3. Unbridled expectations. Seeking money, perennial youth, status, achievements, or talents. Not only will the unattainability of them lead to dissatisfaction with one’s self when you achieve such expectation the pleasure is short lived.  I call it the Everest syndrome – where climbers come to the reality of the “So what” when their life is not better because of the achievement.

1. Catch the envy and look for the underlying unmet need

Have that Aha moment and ask yourself, “What is the underlying unmet need here”.  The answer could be, “Is it that I have never been abroad, “I don’t own my own home,” or “I have never been to Africa,” the reason why I reacted to the Facebook post from a friend. If so, go back to your Ikigai and Treasure map and tweak your goals, e.g., making sure you have set a time goal for that next trip abroad. In other words, we can use the envy in a positive way.  The more fulfilled you feel in the various aspects of your life—romantic, social, professional, and hobbies—the less envy you will feel towards anyone.

2. Develop a habit of a daily gratitude session

Think about what you do have and be grateful. My cat , ‘Tigger’ has an uncanny way of reminding me how simple life can be.

3. Remember life is a long game

Many of the people I was once envious off have lives that have not met the potential that their promising start signalled. If you work relentlessly on your Ikigai and scoring in the seven areas of your Treasure map you will succeed. A colleague who is scoring 10 out of 10 at work most likely is not scoring so well on the other facets that represent a balanced life.

4. Limit your time on the “Envy machines”

Find me someone who has two hours a day to look at social media and you have found someone who does not have their Ikigai and Treasure map in place.

Before you view others’ posts and before you post about some good career-related news, ask yourself “Why do I want to do this?”  Is it out of vanity?  Do you want the likes and the messages of congratulations? Do you want others to know that you are doing well?

5. Remember you are a _______ (insert first name) package

Plan to develop your own positive qualities to be a better version of yourself. Invest more time to pursuing your rocks that you have identified in your treasure map.

6. Work in a role that maximises your natural talents

Undertaking work that play to your natural talents is a no brainer. I am not suggesting here to turn your favourite hobby into a career. As this can often be a disaster. We all have a cluster of talents and using the Clifton StrengthsFinder will help you realise what yours are.

7. Schedule tasks each day that make you happy

Happiness is the greatest blocker of envy. Try and think of a time when you were happy while simultaneously also envious.  Working on your rocks will also guarantee bringing you happiness as you creep towards that goal you have set.

8. Invest time helping others

Doing volunteer work often is the most rewarding thing you can do. As you give you receive.

9. Seek professional help

If you feel envy intensely or frequently you will find help through a counsellor specialised in this area.

Extract from ‘Don’t Say I Never Told You’ Series 2

-A guide to life from a loving father to his millennial daughters

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