Envy is our best friends. It can tell us what we really want under all that resentment, so we can go get it

SEVERAL years ago, I noticed I was feeling very unfavourable towards a certain friend.

Every time I talked to her, I felt out of sorts. I began noticing things I didn’t like and avoided talking to her.

Because I like to self-reflect, I gave the matter some thought. Why was I suddenly pulling away from someone I dearly loved? And it came to me. Jealousy.

Rather than let the friendship go, I decided to list all the things that were making me feel jealous of her. And only one came up.

Although she is gorgeous and very talented, my red light was that she travelled a lot for work. Just back from London, just off to Paris, just back from Vietnam, just off to America. I wanted to slap dat bi-atch down.

Funnily, possessions, beauty, women with great bodies, jewels, money have always left me cold. I only ever wanted to travel, my truest passion. But hard times, child rearing and commitments made it so difficult. I never admitted the degree to which I had become resentful.

I decided that rather than push my friend away I would put travel back into my life and stop making excuses. Money always gets prioritised. There are ways to arrange child care or take a child travelling. I would just make some tough decisions, which is how I ended up floating down the Ganges in Varanasi, India, with a five-year-old babe in my arms.

Envy is not a sin, it’s a gift. And now I encourage my friends to use this technique. If you dislike someone, look for signs of the green-eyed monster and if it’s there, great! Make a jealousy list.

1 Angelina Jolie because she’s got fat lips

2 Kylie Minogue because she still looks 15

3 My brother Jake because he’s musical

4 My cat Bubbles because he’s free to roam

5 Gordon Ramsay because he’s got so much hair

Then do or have as many of the things as possible.

Yes, get a facelift if it will make you feel better; get a boob job or hair transplant. Go take up sax (or sex) and see if you can find a hidden talent. Stop denying yourself things that mean so much to you that not having them is making you bitter and twisted.

There are things you’re simply not going to get, but doubling your boon can only be a good thing. Read magazines, go see friends, and make an “I just wanna punch your lights out” list. And bingo, there’s your next inspiration.

Share your jealousy list with me.

Press “Comment” above.

Full story The Australian


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14 Responses to Jealousy

  1. Rowena 1 September 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    I am on a roll now as your column about IDENTIFYING the source of discomfiture as envy and then using it as a springboard for change really struck a chord with me. I found myself disgruntled with some of my friends and have ,since reading your article,identified that I am jealous of their relationships…not because I find their partners more attractive than mine..but because I perceived that they had better and more stimulating ways of communicating than our relationship seems to have.I am therefore going to learn better ways of communicating with my partner and am going to hone my conversation skills by doing some more stimulating and fulfilling activities in my spare time eg volunteering in our local oncology department and maybe just learning speaking skills through Toastmasters.Thank you for the springboard!!

  2. faaiz muhammad 27 August 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    jealousy is part of life. its normal as long as it does not affect you to take some extreme steps. people do respond to the things around them and it reflects in their personalities.
    i ask you a single thing ruth. How long can you stay controlled in a life of deprivation.

  3. Helen 27 August 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Hi again Ruth

    In my immature years, I was never beautiful enough, never smart enough, never happy enough and others had what I wanted. Green alright. We were best friends at the time, and we had our fair share of jealousy issues, as you will remember.

    As I grow I realise that no-one has it ALL good, therefore why be jealous? The big house? irrelevant to me. The flashy lifestyle? Meaningless. Youth? Temporary. Beauty? We are all beautiful. But this awareness came in maturity.

    If we have been living a life where we have pursued/fulfilled/ or are fulfulling our dreams, for better or for worse, I believe we have achieved or are achieving our own happiness. Everyone’s idea of happiness is unique. The advertisers like to manipulate us all to want the materialistic version, eternal youth, the perfect figure, but eventually most of us learn that these things can’t satisfy our deeper yearning for self love and a spiritual connection with others and our environment.

    I have been grappling with ageing, as I am now fifty, and in particular, as a single woman, the recession of beauty. Would having a facelift solve the problem for me? No. It would be like trying to buy back youth and that’s just not possible. I am fifty but I keep in shape and have so much to be thankful for. I don’t envy anyone any more. I am content, even sometimes when I am sad or disappointed because that is a part of life, particularly for the more passionate ones. And I am happy to pay the price for that passion.

    I know I will one day meet the man who will think I am even more beautiful today than yesterday. Because today I have drunk one more sip from the cup of life, and have gained some little insight or seen something new, that has uplifted me, internally.

  4. Matt Hern 27 August 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    I really enjoyed your columns Ruth and this one resonated with a concept I teach (so I blogged about it, of course).

    To ensure people have enough money for what matters most in life I recommend they “save for the significant and minimise the insignificant.”

    However I notice that a lot of people don’t practice the self-reflection you mention in your article and therefore don’t know what is significant for them.

    Embracing and re-channeling one’s jealousy could be a great technique for people to discover what matters most to them in life.

    (P.S. If you want to check out what I blogged you can view it here:

  5. Lucy 27 August 2011 at 5:55 am #

    I envy lovers – young or old. It’s what we all want, no matter what age. Tonight I was on the bus in Vienna (Austria) coming home from the movies and a beautiful woman and man got on and couldn’t keep their hands off each other. I smiled at them (like a mad relation) and though, “yes, you are both very lucky – enjoy the moment”. I envy those who find that very special connection with somebody – friend or lover. I’ve been married a long time but still seek that soul-mate, that spiritual friend who moves life to another level. This journey has produced much pain for me in the past, but I never give up!!

  6. Ruth Ostrow 27 August 2011 at 1:02 am #

    I think those people are called acquaintances. They are there for the good times, not necessarily for a long time. A combo of both new and true is good, but like you I find myself too involved with my family and work and my handful of very close friends to have too many of the party crew any more. Maybe its an age or generational thing? Or maybe you and I should be on Facebook more 🙂

  7. Sanguine 27 August 2011 at 12:59 am #

    I envy people who seem to have lots of friends. I never did. I was always a one friend woman, and even now in my middle years only have a couple of dear dear friends. I seem to be busy with the kids or grandkids. But it does make me wonder. If I had more friends I could have a social life. Hard because when my friends are busy with family or commitments I am alone at home reading. How do people manage so many friends? Or are those friendships simply not as deep as mine?

  8. Kaaren 27 August 2011 at 12:55 am #

    Hi Ruth I am jealous of these things.
    1. People who have easy money. I have always had to struggle, and it is hard not to feel resentful at those who seem to have so much and are so arrogant.
    2. People who have a loving relationship. I was married for 11 years and for most of that time we had lost our connection to each other. I see people who seem to be in tune with each other and I feel sad that I am alone again at 45
    3. People who have a loving relationship with their parents and siblings. Sadly my father died and I don’t get on with my mother. I only have one brother and his wife doesn’t like me so we never catch up.

    Ruth I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, and it does doesn’t it? But life is hard for me i have no children, and i struggle along alone. I do try to look at people less fortunate. But any way your article cheered me up because it made a joke out of something I take too seriously. I am tired of feeling sorry for myself, but I don’t think a list is going to do me much good at this stage in life.

  9. Ruth Ostrow 26 August 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    Simply beautiful Liliana. This is such a profound and valuable comment I am very moved.

  10. Liliana 26 August 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    J’ nes regrets or jealousies. I escaped Nazi occupied Europe and made my home in this lovly country. I am so happy to have lived here, and do not ever ever dare to wish for anything after all those people I knew suffered so much atrocities in the war. I look around now too and see the state of the world. My philosophia is this. If you feel envy always look at people who are worst off than you.

  11. Mandy 26 August 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    Liking the male perspective here a lot. My jealousy list would include Madonna for all the amazing men she had affairs with, and is still having affairs with although I am not envious of what she has done to her face. She doesn’t even look like herself any more. isn’t it a dreadful shame when actors and actresses do that to themselves. Who do they think they are fooling?

  12. Ruth Ostrow 26 August 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    Lovely to read that email. So many men I know are envious of men with hair. But it is an unspoken truth. Women are permitted to be jealous of other women’s bodies but men have to pretend they are only jealous of career achievements of other males. Your email was truthful, you are both jealous and also carefree at the same time. I think we girls feel the same way about many things.

  13. StantheMan 26 August 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    Ruth, I am at that age now when I’m starting to age on the extremities of my noggin. I used to have a blonde Gordon Ramsay mane. I now have a head which is far too polished. My daughters made me do the no back and sides because they said it was cooler to have a shaved head than a balding head. Too late for that said I. Envy, no. I have had such a wonderful fulfilling life, I can hardly be envious about anything. But I do sometimes cast other hursuit males a sly glance.

  14. Boffin 26 August 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    I am envious of men with hair. How dreadful to admit that. But I’m only 29 and I just feel so insecure about it. Sadly your formula isn’t that simple Ruth. I have been seeing hair specialist company (xxx) for a few months and nothing much is happening despite the money and effort I am putting in to this. As for transplants that is very radical and the money is much to expensive. I would rather spend the money travelling and doing positive things rather than being vain. It’s just that I am being honest here because you always are.

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