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J is for Jealousy

J is for Jealousy
This entry is part 10 of 27 in the series A to Z

Is it just a waste of time?

Sometimes I feel like I have the attention span of a dog. Squirrel! As I was saying … Dog! I’m a total sucker for all things glittery. Pee smell! Not handbags, but whatever that new new thing is that someone has that I … don’t. It’s not even realistic or rational or sensible or logical, but I still do it. It bugs me. Butterfly!

But what actually bugs me is not so much the fact that someone has a prettier handbag than I do (wait, I thought we weren’t talking about handbags … ?). It’s that I even bother with the thought process of measuring, comparing, judging, and all of those time-wasting, brain-draining, ego-destructing exercises.

A friend makes a boatload of money. They just added onto their house and bought a convertible luxury car. Is it just normal human reaction to be jealous? Envious? Shouldn’t I just be happy for them? Rather than not-so-quietly thinking, “How come that’s not me?” Is jealousy worse than envy? What are these definitions anyway?

jealous: resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself
envy: a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.

Looks like jealousy is worse: resentment versus just discontent. Although covetousness doesn’t seem like fun either.

Don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle–or end

But when I actually stop and analyze the situation, the jealousy tapers off. If I really think about what they “have” versus what I “have” then all seems well with the world. Because it’s not all about having anyway, of course. Take the big  picture. If we’re talking pure money, just the cash, the moolah in the bank, sure, envy. But what did it take them to get there? Do you want to be doing what they’re doing? Cold calls to prisons? (Not kidding.) Attorney friends make several hundred thousand dollars per year. You couldn’t pay me enough to do their job. First of all, I couldn’t do it do their job, but more important, I don’t want to. So according to this rationale, I shouldn’t be jealous. And that’s just the thing: I’m not. It’s the glitter. Cat! It’s the body after they’ve been working out in the gym and doing the triathlon. The jealousy doesn’t come from thinking about their time in the gym or the pool. Bird!

I just think it’s petty. Not pretty, petty. It’s, as my British colleague likes to say, pedestrian. Not at a crosswalk, but this one:

pedestrian: commonplace, unimaginative

I’d take pedestrian as a bigger insult than jealous. But I’m feeling pedestrian because I’m feeling jealousy. I should be above this. I like to think that I am. Which is why it bugs me. Yellow jacket!

Is glittery jealousy OK? What if it goes deeper?

Is glittery jealousy OK? What if it goes deeper?

June 2013 Update: Leo Babauta just wrote an excellent piece titled, “The Futility of Comparing Yourself to Others
Series Navigation<< I is for IndecisionK is for Kin >>


  1. Ida Chiavaro Reflex Reactions

    Accepting our flaws is a good starting point to changing them… I have a bit of a butterfly theme going on tomorrow, and pop over today if you are looking for some Joy

      • Ida Chiavaro Reflex Reactions

        Not everyday can be a Joyday, your list of blogs under joy is quite impressive, any of those should also put you in a good mood

        • Bradley

          If everyday were a joy day, it would make them less special and therefore maybe less joyful.

          Thanks for pointing out my number of Joy posts. It’s a good reminder to oneself … which I why I’ve been trying to document things I don’t want to forget–especially the good stuff! I try to get that this here in “Can We Strengthen Our Memories?” I’m trying to improve my memory of the good stuff by documenting it and … not documenting the bad stuff.

  2. Cindy Dwyer

    I was just talking to someone today about people I know who are very wealthy. Only one – ONE – of them is truly happy and has a life worthy of what I have. I think part of being happy and feeling wealthy is appreciating the wonderful things we do have, and looking with honesty at what others are lacking.

    Great post.

    • Bradley

      Thanks so much for the note, Cindy. I think I’m just guilty of being attracted to Shiny Things. But after they flash by, I usually forget about them and return to my … happy life. 😉

      I’m trying to appreciate the important stuff, like time. “I Have Everything I Want. I Want Everything I Have.

  3. LillianC

    This is a lot of fun to read. I considered Jealousy for J Day. Glad I went in another direction, because you covered it better than I would have!

    Happy A to Z!

  4. Lynne Revette Butler

    Like Lilian C I considered J for Jealousy but your post is much more entertaining than the one I would have written; I absolutely love the interjections by the dog brain.

    • Bradley

      Thanks so much for the compliment, Lynne. The dog brain interjections just kind of happened as I was writing … Falling Leaf!

  5. dee

    Haha I love this post! It’s funny yet thought-provoking post. Didn’t realize te difference between jealousy and envy before. Now I know!

    ~ D is for Deecoded ~

    • Bradley

      Hi Dee,

      I hadn’t either. It’s another bonus of having a writing deadline (or contest or challenge): it pushes you to look up new words, to see what the definitions are and maybe how they might be different from what you thought. I’d always wondered what the difference was, but never took the time to look it up. Now I did.

      Thanks for stopping by, Dee!



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