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How to stop being jealous

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I used to be pretty jealous. I used to actually joke that I was just a “jealous guy,” as if that was part of my makeup.

And the truth is, it’s easy to feel jealous when you’re young and everyone is going through the same experiences — same classes, same grades, same clubs — but some people are objectively better than you.

DAMN! I sucked at a lot of things.

In junior high, one of my friends had way cooler clothes.

In high school, I got the lowest grades on my math tests in the entire class for the whole year.

And early in college, I saw guys who were much better with girls.

The good news is, things started to change. Once you get into college, you’re not all taking the same classes. You start branching off into different paths. Maybe you get a little better with girls or guys. Now, if a friend gets a huge accomplishment, I feel HAPPY, not jealous.

But I have to admit…sometimes it still gets me. We still find a way to judge because it’s in our nature to compare ourselves to others. And often, we do so in very twisted ways. 

We check our newsfeed and wonder why we’re stuck in a cubicle while our friend is posting pics from Aruba.

Even if we’ve made it, we still compare. Did you know that most millionaires don’t consider themselves rich? Why? They’re comparing themselves to people above them, not below.

So when I got this question from Matthew R. on jealousy, I wanted to take a few minutes to respond:

“I’m almost 23. I can’t help but compare myself to people in the world who have had great success. And when I look at all of them (yourself, Ramit, included) I feel they were on a much better trajectory at 23 than I am. Compared to people I know, I’m doing much better. But compared to the best, I’m behind. What can I do to resolve this? I realize that’s an incredibly broad question.” – Matthew R.

 

Watch this video for how I handle jealousy:

 

Once you’ve watched the video, leave a comment. What makes you jealous? (Be specific.) How do you handle it?

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145 Comments

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  1. Hi Ramit,

    I like that you actually talked to the people you were jealous of, who told you that you should become the best at what you love.

    Then, if you’re not willing to become the best at whatever it is, or “pay the price” to reach the success of the people you are jealous of, just let it go.

    I’ve been reading up on Stoicism lately and they had some quite advanced things to say about this topic. I’m quoting Epictetus below:

    “You are unjust, then, and insatiable, if you are unwilling to pay the price for which these things are sold, and would have them for nothing. For how much is lettuce sold? Fifty cents, for instance. If another, then, paying fifty cents, takes the lettuce, and you, not paying it, go without them, don’t imagine that he has gained any advantage over you. For as he has the lettuce, so you have the fifty cents which you did not give.”

    This quote is in the context of not being invited to some special dinner or receiving some honor that someone else received. I like the lettuce example because it changes the mental framework a bit.

    Good post.

    -Dale

    • True, but sometimes the lettuce is given away freely. In addition, quite often we aren’t the customer buying or considering buying the lettuce, but we are the lettuce vendors children comparing ourselves to our father or mother’s competition.

    • Wow, amazing quote, Dale. That is so true. If anyone has some measure of success that we do not, it’s because they have sacrificed that which we were unwilling to part with ourselves.

    • @Reginald

      I’m not sure what you mean.

      @JJ

      Thanks. When we view the profiles of success people in magazine, we rarely see all the the things they gave up to get there.

    • I used to be very jealous about anything and everything. Why didn’t I get that item/service? Why don’t I have the same amount of food as that person? Why is she talking to other guys? Why don’t I get that response? Etc, etc, etc.

      I found that being jealous was stupid, in the way that it doesn’t get you anywhere. You put a negative connotation when you think of something that makes you jealous.

      I still get jealous from time to time but I put myself in the mindset of, how can I achieve what they achieved? How can I get that? What can I do to do be as successful, with jobs, money, women, etc.

      I put my mind in a positive state when I get jealous and now I take the jealously and use it as a fire to ignite passion in myself, to try and achieve what others might be achieving; systematically going through the process of seeing how they did it and how I can take that and put it to use in my own life with my own goals.

    • hey, can’t u read it well? or u r still a jealousy if u need more talk whatsapp me @+2347067918465 OR +249926593872

  2. Here’s another point, don’t waste time trying to bring down others who have found their passion and success. Spend your energy on yourself and doing what you love.

  3. I have friends who live and travel all over the world, and think nothing of flying to other countries for a few weeks of vacation. That makes me jealous. But, they all live lives they love and do work they are passionate about, so I think I found my answer there.

    But also, seeing people at work who are doing the same things I’m doing, acting the same way I do (seemingly) and getting promoted time and time again while I feel stuck. Happy for them, but at the same time jealous and frustrated. Time for a change.

  4. Hi Ramit,

    I really liked your post today. It made me think about how much energy, tears and anger I have spent on being jealous.

    I have two older sisters who both are very successful (like how I see them).
    They both got amazing grades during high school, completed their studies within the shortest time period possible and have found their dream jobs. I often think that my family believe they are the smartest and most intelligent, while I on the same time is not. I want to do everything as perfect as them, but ends up burned out quite often since I’m putting way to much pressure on my self in order to achieve what they did. I’m almost finish with my studies, but have still (almost) no idea what I am going to work with and feel often very blue when I compare myself with my sisters. I think they both did a great job and I do look up to them, but I often also envy them for being so confident and focused on their goals.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I will try my best to find my passion, work hard on that and be satisfied with what I can achieve.

    Greetings,
    Sara

  5. What makes me jealous is the subjective ways in which people are treated differently across the board. You see this from salaries offered for jobs for two different candidates with the same credentials to how people in restaurants serve your food. The funny thing is people will do this when they have a perception of who a person is and also when they know who a person is. I think the difference is what makes me jealous and what also inspires me to become that person that people know to obtain the preferential treatment even if its not genuinely given.

  6. Hi Ramit,

    I used to let jealousy lead my thinking astray. It’s easy to compare yourself to people who have more than you, who are more successful, are on a better trajectory, etc.

    I did two three things that helped immensely that actually helped me conquer what I call the naysayer inside. Here’s what I did:

    (1) I was completely honest with myself in terms of where I was at on my “trajectory” and what I “really wanted”; I think that honesty is the first step and I had to acknowledge and accept where I was at.

    (2) Every time I thought up an excuse as to why I lacked something, I called myself out and came up with the real reason(s) why I wasn’t successful in that area; This was eye-opening for me.

    (3) I educated myself by researching people who I thought were successful and started to learn why they were successful – what choices they made, their mindsets, their motivations, and what kind of strategies they utilize(d) to get to where they are and to continue to succeed in their chosen endeavors.

    What I realized, is that it boils down to making choices. Someone can choose to use their time to take action starting from wherever they are at life in order to succeed or they can use their time to make excuses and let their inner naysayer(s) talk them out of their goals and dreams.

    This is a really good topic to discuss, as I found that even successful people have their inner critics trying to talk them out of achieving their goals.

  7. Ramit, this did nothing to stop my envy, kidding aside, I am so happy for your success! You are a great Master!

  8. I get jealous of those more successful than me academically. Life kept me from finishing college and though I plan on finishing it won’t be soon. I have achieved all my other goals and statistically should be very happy. I have the best husband, two beautiful kids and my dream home in a picturesque town. I have the blessed opportunity of staying home to raise my babies but feel empty at times because my dream job is just out of reach. I have a bountiful life and shouldn’t envy others as I don’t know what they feel they are missing in their lives. My success is defined by me only, not by others but I deeply admire those who have had the opportunity to complete their degrees and move forward with that respective chapter of their lives.

  9. The way I do it is looking at jealousy as motivation…. I know what my goals are, I just keep on working to get it

  10. Women who have gone to top graduate schools, have jobs that allow them to travel/live abroad, and still have great careers. I am working on that top graduate school thing!

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