How to Overcome Envy: 5 Effective Tips

“Envy consists in seeing things never in themselves, but only in their relations. If you desire glory, you may envy Napoleon, but Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I daresay, envied Hercules, who never existed.”
Bertrand Russell

“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”
Harold Coffin

Envy can be like a tiny devil on your shoulder that whisper words into your ear, gnashes on your soul and makes life into something that is often filled with suffering and much negativity.

Or the envy can just be something that irritates and distracts you from time to time.

In any case, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you want to, then you can at least minimize it in your life.

So that you can spend your time here in a lighter and happier headspace.

Focus on yourself when it comes to comparing.

Comparing what you have to what others have is a good way to make yourself miserable.

It feeds your ego when you buy a nicer car or get a better job than someone else. You feel great for a while.

But this mindset and the focus on comparing always winds up in you noticing someone that has more than you. That someone has an even better job or car than you.

And so you don’t feel so good anymore.

The thing is that there is always someone with better or more than you. So you can never “win”. You just feel good for a while and then you don’t.

A more useful way to compare is to just compare yourself to yourself.

Look at how you have grown and what you have achieved. Appreciate what you have done and what you have.

See how far you have come and what you are planning to do.

This will make you make you more positive and emotionally stable since you are no longer comparing and feeling envious of what the other guy have that you haven’t.

Be grateful for what you got.

Besides comparing yourself to yourself it can be helpful to add a regular gratitude exercise to your life to minimize the envy.

So take just two minutes out of your day to focus on being grateful for all the things you got. Make a list of them in your head or write them down in journal at the beginning or end of the day.

Develop an abundance mentality.

Envy often seems to come from a perceived scarcity in some area of your life.

Maybe you feel envious because someone else got the job you wanted. Or because someone else got the opportunity that you had hoped for.

Perhaps you are feeling envious because you are afraid of losing something and feel that if you do then you have hit rock bottom.

Focusing your mind on the scarcity can really screw with your thoughts, feelings and life. It can cause much stronger negative emotions than is really reasonable.

And it gets you really stuck in the envy, intensifying it, making it stronger and more long-lasting by feeding it with more thoughts and emotional energy.

To get out of this confining and destructive mentality you can choose to focus on the opportunities and the new chances. You can develop an abundance mentality.

There are always new business opportunities to find, new tests in school to take and new people to date/make friends with.

This way of thinking relieves much of the pressure you may feel if you have a scarcity mentality that makes you think that you only got this shot right now.

Or makes you feel like an utter failure just because you just stumbled and things didn’t work out this time.

So keep your focus steadily on the opportunities, on the new chances, on what you can learn from your failures as best you can instead of confining your mind and your life.

It is sometimes hard to do so from day to day but it is even harder in the long run to live a life where you don’t keep that positive focus.

Think about what’s in it for you.

I have found this to be helpful in many cases when I have negative thoughts or when I’m behaving in a less than useful way.

Basically, I ask myself: What’s in it for me? And each time I fall back into that negative headspace and behaviour I remind myself of this question and the answer.

This reinforces to me the pointlessness of what I’m thinking. And often I just think to myself: “Oh, I’m being stupid again. Time to focus on something useful/fun/positive instead”.

Now, there are upsides of being envious that can make it hard to let go of it.

When you are being envious you may not take chances or go into the unknown. You just judge people that have taken the chances from the safety of the sidelines.

Feeling envious can also make you feel like a victim. Such a mentality may sound very unattractive for anyone to want.

But in reality it brings you attention and validation because you can always get good feelings from other people as they are concerned about you and try to help you out.

And you don’t have to take the sometimes heavy responsibility. Taking responsibility for your own life can be hard work, you have to make difficult decisions and it is just heavy sometimes.

When you are ready to let go of that safety and those somewhat strange upsides it will be easier to change how you act and how you think about things.

Get a life.

Simple and perhaps the best tip in my opinion.

If you find yourself sitting around too much and not having enough to do then it’s very easy to feel stuck and to get stuck in thought loops and go into a downward spiral.

Simply by filling your life with more fun activities and people and the things you want out of life you won’t have time or a reason to be envious. Other benefits of getting a life are that you become a lot more relaxed and less prone to overreacting about the little things.

So spend less time analyzing life and more time living and exploring it in whatever way you’d like.

Image by Florencia Cárcamo (license).

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • great advice indeed. No matter how ‘successful’ we think we are; there’s always going to be someone who is more successful. No matter how pretty we think we are, there’s always somebody who is prettier. No matter how tall, fast, strong – there’s always going to be someone who is taller/faster/stronger.

    It’s all relative. But I like your advice about living and exploring. The happier and more fulfilled we are, the more we count our blessings, the less jealous we will feel.

    Might I also say that too many of us ignore our own progress. It’s helpful to just stop and reflect on how far we have come. Human beings are underrated ;)

  • Nice Post! I agree “Focus on yourself” and stop looking to the right or the left. Look straight ahead to avoid distractions that will slow you down. Trying to keep up with the Jone’s only distract people from looking and moving forward with ones own ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great article.
    Envy is something we have all felt and not very often does it motivate us to get the things we envy, instead we freeze up and do nothing.

    These recent years I have learned to use envy to my advantage.
    As with your example with Napoleon, he did some incredible things in his life. Instead of envying him, by his autobiography, read what he did to succeed and use it in your life.

    If you are jealous of Bill Gates for being rich, read what he did and what other successful people did and follow in their footsteps.

    We don’t have to re-invent the wheel. It is enough to do the same things others have done before us and we can expect the same results.

    Using envy to push me forward has really helped me and I am sure it can help anyone else.

  • Really comparing has to go.

    Even when we do compare ourselves with others we are actually comparing our perception of another with our perception of ourselves. There is not even a concrete reality to the comparison.

    We are all perfect right here and right now, the only imperfect things are our rules about perfection.

  • Not only is it important to count your own blessings, and be content with what you have, but also to realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

    We may see someone with everything we think we want, but we don’t see the turmoil that person may be going through on a day to day basis.

    Great post Henrik.

  • I agree! We can really drive ourselves crazy if we get into comparing ourselves with others. I like the Huna (an ancient Polynesian philosopy) idea of blessing what we want. So if I see a beautiful house, car, person, etc. I try to bless that person’s good fortune rather than envy them.

    Thanks. You have a wonderful blog here. I bless the Positivity blog!

    Debra : )

  • “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”
    Harold Coffin

    awesome! and yea, I agree totally when it comes to seeing that the best thing we can do is focus on what we can do.

  • Good stuff! I think the best advice by far is, “get a life.”

    Being in the self development community, I find that lots of people get stuck on reading material to the point of theorizing versus getting real hands on experience.

    Cheers Henrik!

  • Great post! Love the part about the abundance mentality — I’m definitely working on that — and of course gratitude. Great way to make envy something empowering when we switch our thinking. Thanks!

    what are you grateful for today?

  • I think we become more grateful for what we have. Enviousness can’t seep into our consciousness. It’s just can’t, unless you allow it.

  • Great post and as always great valuable information. Envy is a deep emotion which can take some shifting. I find the biggest step is when a person finally loves themselve, for who they are. they stop looking for the best in other people OVER themselves. They see a wonderful person right in the mirror.

  • I totally agree, why bother comparing yourself to someone else?
    Forget keeping up with the ‘Joneses’, just be happy with what YOU have.

    I know this is easier said than done because sometimes I catch myself being envious of others.

    Thank you

  • Ana

    Awesome post about something that happens to us all.
    One thing that i found is helpful with that is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Think of what they are thinking,how happy they are for themselves, and how hard they worked to get what they have. You would want the same for yourself. So instead of feeling envy, you feel happy for them.

  • Hi so true. If we focus on what we have, opportunities, skills we will take the energy off envy. I think envy arises when we’re not happy with where we are, where we’re feeling a ‘lack’, also a lack in self esteem and self love. When we’re at peace, we wish well for everyone . Liked ‘get a life’s also. Thanks for a great post