Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
“How rare, men with the character to praise a friend’s success without a trace of envy.” -Aeschylus
Recently when I was reading a Publishers Marketplace update, I saw that a friend of mine, an agent, had just completed a really great deal. I simultaneously felt a few different things… amazement, happy for my friend… and yes, a touch of envy. Why couldn’t that have been me?
I’m sure you know what I mean.
The writing/pubishing business is difficult in many ways, and one of them is that we are challenged when we see others around us experiencing exactly the same success we want for ourselves. In our hearts we truly celebrate with them. But how often can we say there is not a trace of envy mixed in? Such a level of spiritual maturity takes a long time to develop. I know I’ve improved by leaps and bounds over the years, but I’m not “there” yet.
In publishing, thousands of writers struggle daily… and everyday, there are more stories of writers reaching milestones. They got an agent; they got their first publishing contract. Their book hit the bestseller list. No matter how successful you are, the success of others can sometimes be difficult to deal with.
I have friends who’ve published numerous books and are considered quite successful. Yet there is always someone who is more successful. Someone selling more copies or getting better reviews. Even those who’ve achieved remarkable success can be tempted to look at others and wish for more.
How do we avoid being bitten by the jealousy bug?
For me, it seems to hinge on a few things.
I am grateful for where I am, for the unique path God has given me. Focusing on my own gifts and the opportunities God gives me to cultivate them keeps me centered. I have to trust I’m where I’m supposed to be, regardless of where anyone else is.
I can ask myself what the envy is trying to tell me. Do I need to work harder? Do I need to do anything differently? When I experience envy, it’s usually about accomplishments, not things. So if I want to accomplish something that someone else has achieved, am I doing everything I can to get there? Sometimes the answer is yes, and I’m just not there yet. But sometimes I can uncover ways I need to change my approach.
I can choose to turn the envy to inspiration. Lately I’ve been able to do this when I’m at the gym. Someone I’ve been seeing at the gym for years appears noticeably more fit, and I think, “Wow. Good for her! If she can do it, I can too.” I feel more inspired than envious.
Acknowledge the truth that if I begin to compare, I’ll always find a way to come out a loser. It’s easy to find someone smarter, prettier, kinder, skinnier, more generous, more godly and more successful than me. Oh yeah, taller too. So it doesn’t make sense to compare. My path is my path, my life is my life, and it doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else’s.
Gratitude is key. But it’s easy to discuss intellectually, harder to make a reality in life. I think it’s one of those things we have to develop over time, as we gain more life experience and grow more mature.
“Our envy of others devours us most of all.” -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Do you have a story about envy? What things tend to bring up the envy in you? How have you dealt with it?