The positive side of envy lies in its motivational force.If you envy someone else’s ability, the discomfort can be a motivator to work harder to improve your skills.
A Tilburg University research psychologist called Van de Ven discovered subjects’ persistence and performance on a creative task was enhanced more by envy than it was by admiration. As he noted, admiration feels better in the moment, but envy energizes renewed efforts.
My underachievement at a ballroom competition a few weeks ago fueled my ambition to work in a much more focused way (and resulted in better results at a later competition). There’s nothing like a prick of inferiority compared to one’s peers to activate a sense of “I can do better.”
Envy is different than jealousy, which is often activated by a challenge to a relationship, and fears of being replaced. Simply put, envy is usually about wishing you had an attribute others have, and jealousy is when you are afraid of losing something (more usually someone) you already have.
May we pursue our paths, using envy’s power in constructive ways,