Feeling Envious: When Other People's Happiness Bothers You
No one dares to say it out loud, but it happens often: we’re not happy when others are happy. All humans are vulnerable to this because feeling envious is just human nature.
When we love someone, we’re supposed to be happy for them when things go their way and cry with them when they’re sad. That’s how things should be. But in reality, that doesn’t always happen. We want to feel happy for others, but sometimes end up feeling just the opposite way.
“Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy.”
-François de La Rochefoucauld-
Most times we’re not capable of admitting it. We simply congratulate others while we’re seething on the inside. Or we even try to belittle their accomplishments with a “But…” or “Be careful, it may not be what you think it is”. Deep inside, we know their success frustrates us somehow. Why does that happen? How can we change that?
When other people’s happiness bothers us
It doesn’t always bother us when others are happy. Sometimes, we may genuinely feel proud of their success. It’s a wonderful feeling that fills us with joy and strengthens our relationship with them. Thus, you may ask yourself why you feel envious in other situations.
First, let’s get something straight: we’re all human and can feel any emotion, whether good or bad. Thus, although it’s not something to be proud of, we shouldn’t punish ourselves for feeling envious of someone we love’s success.
It bothers us that the other person is happy because we’re not happy. Maybe we’ve worked hard to get a similar outcome, but that other person reached their goal and we didn’t. We value them, but it’s impossible not to think about our unfulfilled desires.
Without wanting to, we compare their happiness to our sadness and we decide that it’s unfair.
Other people aren’t a reflection of who you are
All this happens to us when we see the other person as a reflection of ourselves. In other words, we perceive their life as if it was our life.
Usually, feeling envious means we set aside their success and focus only on the results they got because we wanted them for ourselves.
Broadening that perspective is the key. Don’t just look at what that person achieved, but analyze all they had to go through to get it and all the things they haven’t accomplished yet. This is a way of humanizing the situation and finding those elements that set us apart from them.
When we see others as mirrors, we build a narcissistic image of them in our minds. That’s when our ego gets hurt and their happiness bothers us. Instead, if we decide that our story is completely different from theirs, we’ll be able to understand their accomplishments. And that’s when we’ll feel genuinely happy for them.
Feeling envious is a personal growth opportunity
Feeling envious of someone you love is normal. It doesn’t make you a bad person. What you must definitely avoid is letting that feeling grow into resentment. That can end up damaging the bond you have with a person you might learn a lot from.
It’s time to grow. There are things we desire deeply but never get. There are things we want and only get after working really hard. And, of course, we get some things more easily than we thought. That’s exactly what happens to other people. The difference is that it may happen to them faster or more often than it happens to us.
Don’t judge yourself due to other people’s success. That’s a big mistake. Each person’s personal development has nothing to do with anyone else’s.
You can stop feeling envious if you identify the feeling and accept it. Recognize with kindness that other people deserve their success and that your love for them must go beyond those small and insignificant thoughts.