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Envy is Contentment's Enemy

Why do we tend to be envious of others’ success?  What prevents us from celebrating with them?  A few weeks back when a Florida couple claimed their powerball lottery winnings, there was a flood of judgement and criticism about the winners on various social media sites.  Facebook can be a wonderful way to stay connected with family and friends but it can also trigger envy.  A recent study at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that if Facebook is used to compare how well you’re doing in life relative to others then envy can develop which in some cases can lead to depression.  While Facebook can be a positive resource for some, other users feel that their lives are unfulfilling in comparison to their friends/family and feel compelled to create posts that portray their best selves.

A recent study published in the Journal of Personality from Iowa State University found a connection between narcissism and envy.  Many people don’t realize that there are different types of narcissism.  Whereas the grandiose narcissist would be less likely to feel envy, the vulnerable narcissist would exhibit strong feelings of envy.  The authors concluded that vulnerable narcissists still feel special and entitled, but struggle with self-esteem and are more passive, shy, and introverted.  They may experience festering anger and can lash out when their envy and narcissism create the perfect storm.

Everyone experiences envy at some point in time and it’s normal to compare ourselves with others.  After all, there will always be someone with a nicer car, better marriage, bigger house, and more money than us. What’s important is how much time, thought, and negative energy we spend on our feelings of envy. How can we be happy for others when they have good luck, succeed in their careers, or are blessed with something positive?  We need to start by being content and happy with what we have, what we’ve accomplished and who we are as individuals.  I’ve shared before that emotions connect people, well that applies to positive emotion too.  If we don’t celebrate the good news in our friends’ or family’s lives than we create a disconnect.  We need to work on being happy for those who are experiencing good fortune and not get down on ourselves because we haven’t achieved at their level.  Happiness comes from positive relationships, not wealth, status, or material possessions.  Acknowledge the good things happening in the lives of people around you and avoid resenting them for their success or feeling compelled to rain on their parade.  Celebrate other’s victories and you’ll find that it strengthens your connection and distracts from your own self-absorption.

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