Monday, August 29, 2011

Jealousy and Envy

Image from

My lesson for today: these two are not the same. All this time I was under the impression that jealousy and envy very similar, and even interchangeable with each other. Turns out it’s not, and they have separate meanings. Just goes to show you that sometimes what you believe to be right is not always the case.

These are the definitions from Wikipedia:

Jealousy is a secondary emotion and typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, particularly in reference to a human connection. Jealousy often consists of a combination of presenting emotions such as anger, sadness, resentment and disgust. It is not to be confused with envy.

Envy (also called invidiousness) is best defined as an emotion that "occurs when a person lacks another's (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it."

The common experience of jealousy for many people may involve:

Fear of loss
Suspicion of or anger about a perceived betrayal
Low self-esteem and sadness over perceived loss
Uncertainty and loneliness
Fear of losing an important person to another

The experience of envy involves:

Feelings of inferiority
Resentment of circumstances
Ill will towards envied person often accompanied by guilt about these feelings
Motivation to improve
Desire to possess the attractive rival's qualities
Disapproval of feelings

Source: Wikipedia

Ok, the reason I looked up the definition was that I came across a cool article called “Jealousy Is a Wasted Emotion” on the “The Minimalist” blog.

According to them we can turn off our jealous feelings:

There is good news though. Like our televisions, we can chose to turn it off. We can choose to remove jealousy from our emotional arsenal. And like TV, it’s not always easy to turn off (it sure seems interesting sometimes, doesn’t it?) But turning off jealousy can significantly improve one’s emotional health. Because, at the end of the day, jealousy is never useful. Many negative emotions can be useful—pain tells us something is wrong, fear tells us to look before we leap, etc.—but jealousy, no matter how jealous we get, will never help.

Worth a read. If we can control these negative emotions we'll be much better people and much happier.


No comments: