By Karen Charlton
We’re all moving on to the internet and in this global village, we have so many Joneses to keep up with.
You mightn’t realise, but you probably have pangs of life envy every day as you do your rounds of email, Facebook and various social media platforms. I know I do sometimes: “Oh, I want to live in my dream house …” or “Kelly has had a baby. I wish I had a baby!”. There is so much news to take in online, and so much of it is good, and so much of it belongs to everyone else. As Gore Vidal famously quipped, “Every time a friend of mine succeeds, a small part of me dies”.
We don’t talk about it because envy feels dirty: thou shalt not covet. But this is not the only way of looking at it.
Pop philosopher and all ‘round nice guy Alain deBotton suggests that we should use envy as a starting point to make our own lives better. He suggests we should understand envy as having ‘an energy to achieve’, and direct that energy toward building a better life for ourselves. You want a new car too? Make it a goal, then get on with working hard to get it. deBotton argues that refusing to acknowledge envy can lead to misplaced anger, and conspiracy theories about why everyone else has success, and we don’t. Unacknowledged envy will eat away at you. Fact.
5 ways to handle life envy:
1 Everyone on the internet is showing their best bits, in the best light. Take their successes at face value, but know they are also paying taxes, having pap smears and replacing their car brakes just like the rest of us.
2 Write a list of all best bits about your own life. Instead of posting that list on a social network, keep it to yourself, perhaps on your desk, in your journal, on your desktop. Remind yourself of it every time you feel yourself turning greener with every click.
3 Start thinking of your own future, and set some goals. Maybe you could start planning your dream holiday? Perhaps open a savings account to save up for that new car?
4 If life envy is eating at you, switch off and spend some time IRL. You might be surprised how enviable your life is, if only you slow down enough to appreciate its fullness.
5 Be grateful for what you do have. Write it down. Give it a squeeze. Hold it in your hand and feel its weight.