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The upside of Envy

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

Q: A friend and I are in the same profession. They have advanced more quickly then I have and I hate to admit it bothers me somehow. I don’t want these feelings to get in the way of our friendship. What can I do about it?

A: Ah yes, the pang of envy. Did you know that research is now showing that envy can have a positive effect on our lives? Researchers now classify envy into two camps; malicious and benign. Benign envy is when you are happy for and motivated by another person’s success and strive to emulate it. With malicious envy, you want what they have but also want to cut the person down so you look or feel better. Based on you sharing that the friendship is important to you, I would say you have a case of benign envy. That’s a good thing!

These feelings are normal and becoming more aware of our envious feelings can act as a positive motivator in our lives.

Here are some tips:

  1. See these feelings in a different light. Providing it’s benign envy this can be a sign you can be playing a bigger game or they are doing something that is important to you on some level.

  2. Stop comparing. Nobody wins in the comparison game. Comparing erodes our confidence, self-esteem and brings insecurities. Rather, look at what it is about your friend that you want to emulate in your own life. Write it down. It’s only once we are clear about something that we can do anything about it and start moving forward. Identify the why and what about this person that you envy.

  3. Take stock of what is great about your life, career and your strengths. We always want to start something new from a position of strength. Then pick an area of growth, make a game plan and go for it.

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