Feeling envious or jealous is normal—if anyone has ever told you they never experience envious feelings, we're going to go out on a limb here and say they're probably not telling the truth. But if you've ever wondered what you can do to stop being envious, we have good news: There's quite a bit of action you can take.
Envy is defined as "a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck." While feelings of envy can at times be productive—for example, if good things keep happening to someone you know, and your feelings of envy inspire you to get advice from them and pursue a similar path—for many people, envy is a flat-out destructive emotion.
If you want to stop feeling envious (most of the time, at least), start with these six tips.
How to Stop Being Envious
1. Make a list of all the good things in your life
If you want to stop being envious, you need to start with gratitude. When you're happy with and grateful for what you have, it's really hard to sit around stewing about the fact that someone else has something "better" than what you have. When you make regular gratitude lists (the longer the better!), you'll quickly find that envy doesn't creep in quite as often.
2. Try an envy-focused mindfulness exercise
We know, we know: Everyone is sick of hearing people say, "You should try mindfulness." But hear us out on this specific exercise, which is a version of what can be found on the popular meditation app Headspace: Every time you experience envy, note it, and then bring the focus back to your breath. Over time this will become a habit, and although feelings of envy may still pop up, you'll be able to move on more quickly.
3. Unfollow social media feeds make you feel envious
If you constantly find yourself feeling envious of people's vacations, families, jobs, the list goes on and on ... here's your permission to unfollow, or at the very least, mute. And here's a fun envy tip: If you notice certain themes in your envy, try to pursue those things for yourself. If you go on a beach vacation, for example, you might not feel quite as envious the next time you see photos from someone else's beach vacation. See where we're going with this?
Unfollowing or muting can help with feelings of envy.
4. Make friends with people who make you feel envious
When you feel envious of someone, your instinct is probably to stay as far away from them as possible. Instead, try to spend more time with them, if that's available to you. If you're feeling envious of them, chances are you may be aspiring to something related to their life, even if that aspiration is self-conscious. By spending more time with that person, you may find yourself inching closer to your goals and dreams. And guess what? If it starts to feel toxic, you don't have to spend time with them anymore. When it comes to envy, you have more control than you think.
5. Let comparison stop at your past self
It's incredibly easy to compare ourselves to others, but the only person you should compare yourself to is yourself—or rather, your past self. So, for example, when someone posts their marathon time to Instagram, instead of feeling envious that the person can run a marathon, think about the fact that maybe you've exercised a bit more this year than last year. That's a big accomplishment! Embrace it. And if that's not the case for you and you exercised more in the past, maybe this is your reminder to yourself to start moving your body more.
6. Accept that envy is part of life
Envy is always going to be part of life, and it's unrealistic to think that you'll never feel envious again. Instead, work to change your relationship with envy: Use it as a springboard to make big changes for yourself, and get better at acknowledging it and then letting it go.
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