If someone tells you they never get jealous– they’re probably lying.
Elder Holland said, “It has been said that envy is the one sin to which no one readily confesses, but just how widespread that tendency can be is suggested in the old Danish proverb, “If envy were a fever, all the world would be ill.”
Rather than pretend we never feel envious, I think it’s better to talk about it, to find ways to feel less jealousy and bring more happiness into our lives. In this age where we see a constant highlight reel of our friends’ lives on Instagram, feelings of envy can overwhelm us and steal away our own inner contentment.
Cheering for others successes is one of the most important skills we can learn. If you are happy for other people, you simply get to be happy more often.
I’ve always taught my kids, “Don’t be jealous of your siblings. When they succeed it makes you look good too.” It’s true. And it’s easy to see how your brother’s good grades make you look smart and his prowess on the soccer field make you look athletic. But the concept also extends to the entire human family– your good is my good.
People often look at life as a pie– if you get a big slice, there won’t be enough for me. But life truly resembles an eternally replenishing banquet table with enough variety and abundance of good things for all.
Surprises spring from every corner of the universe. None of us can predict the happinesses waiting in our future. Whenever I hear of someone going on a trip, earning a promotion, fulfilling a dream, I’m giddy for them. And I honestly, truly believe when I rejoice for others, more joy comes my way.
Now, I’m not perfect at this. Sometimes I catch myself feeling jealous and petty and scarcely able to congratulate a friend. When those feelings emerge, I know it’s a warning sign about my spiritual health. For me, envy means I haven’t been praying enough, or reading scriptures or expressing gratitude.
Two of my writing friends just landed book deals. I’m delighted for my friends and happy to see their hard work rewarded. Someday, somehow, I’d love to publish a book, but I was anything but jealous when I read their announcements. Their book deal doesn’t mean I won’t ever get one, in fact their success increases my odds because I now have two more friends, two more mentors in the publishing industry. But what if I acted angry and envious? I’d lose those friends and hurt myself as a consequence.
Among photographers, cheering for and helping each other simply means good business. I’ve learned dozens of tips while sitting in the Salt Lake Temple photographer’s lounge waiting for my bride and groom. Good photography increases the demand for good photographers; no one needs to fight for clients or backstab each other. In fact, I wouldn’t trust any photographer who isn’t generous with their knowledge.
OK, so photography and writing jobs abound, but what about when someone gets the exact piece of the pie of life you want? I’ll still argue, a gracious attitude will bring more happiness into your life. Another opportunity will emerge; something good will come your way. Two best friends were nominated for Homecoming Queen. When one was chosen, the other was fiercely jealous. She began spreading rumors about her once closest friend and refused to talk to her. What she didn’t see– what she couldn’t see because her vision had become so green and distorted– was that having a friend who was Homecoming Queen reflected positively on her. Or at least it would have, if she hadn’t become bitter and envious.
Our friend Chris loves to say, “There’s enough sunshine for everyone.” The sun shines across the whole earth. Everyone experiences clouds and storms, but we know light and warmth will come again. The only way to consistently keep sunshine out of our life, lies in hiding in dark places– retreating into caves and holes and cellars so we don’t have to witness others happiness. There’s enough of the Son for everyone.
If you feel envious, turn to your Father in Heaven. Thank Him for your blessings and ask for help in remembering and recognizing the good things in your own life. Keep a gratitude journal and refer to if often. And remember everyone has heartaches and struggles, if you feel envious of someone, remind yourself that they have problems you don’t know about.
Turn to the light. Turn to the Son.