Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dear Danielle,

I consider myself a pretty good person. I am honest, and I try to be a giving, loyal and considerate friend. The thing is, lately I have been noticing that I feel a twinge of jealousy in me when something really great happens to a friend of mine. For instance, one of my best friends just got engaged, and another friend just got offered a lucrative job opportunity. Of course on a rational level I feel happy for them, but my gut reaction when I hear this type of news has been envy. I hate to admit it, but I also think I secretly hope that these amazing things wont happen to my friends so that I feel better about my own life. Am I a terrible person for feeling jealous of my close friends? How do I stop these negative feelings and just purely feel joy for them?

"Envy getting the better of me"

Dear "Envy getting the better of me,"

There is a reason why God commanded people to not covet. You aren't a terrible person. It is human nature to want to feel "better off" in comparison to friends/neighbors. That's why most people would choose to make $100,000 a year while everyone else they know earns "$50,000," rather than making $200,000 while everyone else makes $500,000. Affluence and success are relative terms, and you often assume that if a friend seems on the surface to be doing better than you financially, professionally or socially that it means somehow your own life is lacking. Ask yourself - why does a friend's job promotion make me feel bad about my own life? Use these feelings of envy to address areas of your life you would like to impove and then spend your energy working on those improvements, rather than thinking "the grass is always greener." You will be able to feel pure joy for your friends when you find joy and satisfaction in your own life, regardless of how you "measure up" to others.

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