Musings on Life

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

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In life, I struggle with jealousy. It is easy to look at someone else’s life and to pick and choose the things that seem better than yours. It is quite easy to come up looking less than. I find when I start down this road I always come up lacking. What I have started to do when I feel jealous of others is to reframe my thoughts. Usually I find this to be a good reminder of things I already knew or know but seem to have forgotten.

The first way I try to reframe my mind is to consider the world as connected. When someone else improves or achieves something it makes my world better and their world better and the world at large better. More for them is more for me. Any win for one is a win for all. We often look at the world from a more competitive mindset, seeing someone else’s gain as our loss, but often times this is not true. When our friends and family get healthier, they will live longer which benefits us, we can view their success as something that will benefit us rather than be sad that we have not gotten healthier. When someone we do not know does better, a farmer decides to grow more organic food, that is available for us. I often find it helpful to realize how reliant we are upon others. Their good is good for us all. This frame of reference is typically the most helpful because it is the most positive.

The other way I have learned to reframe my mind is to consider a person’s life as a whole unit. Rather than picking apart the pieces I want, I ask myself do I want their life as a whole taking all the bad with the good because life is not a piecemeal deal. We do not get to “have it our way” but rather our decisions and who we are continually shape and reinforce the reality that is our lives. We cannot have just one aspect because oftentimes it is a result of some personality trait or effort, or character flaw that we are not aware of or cannot see. We like to assume people are only the surface we see, we think that the visible is the true, not recognizing that the invisible can still be true. Who we are ultimately wins out. In this way jealousy can be a tool for clarification. Why am I jealous? Do I want what that person has (lifestyle, physical object, life stage, relationships) because I want it or because I feel I should want it (societal pressure, expectations of others, untrue expectations of myself)?

If I actually want it for myself, then I consider what steps can I take towards the life I want.

If I do not actually want it, then I work to let it go. Pressuring myself to do things I do not like and to be someone I am not does not lead to a happy life for me, but rather is a recipe for burnout and chaos.

This way of viewing makes me also recognize that I have much to be grateful for in my life. I have an abundance of privileges and thinking about life as a holistic endeavor makes me see my own growth and how far I have come, which inspires me to make changes today that will shift where I head.

Is jealousy something you struggle with? What shifts in the way you think about it help you to be grateful for what you have?

 

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