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Inspiration: The Danger of Constant Comparisons…

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“To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is, a dissatisfaction with self.” Joan Didion

Inspiration: The Danger of Constant Comparisons... The story of the jealous duck

Inspiration: The Danger of Constant Comparisons... The swan

Have you ever envied the good fortune of another person or been jealous of someone’s perceived advantage? Have you wondered how/why someone you believed had no talent got ahead? Do you constantly compare yourself to others? If we are honest with ourselves, we’d admit that at some point in time, we felt a twinge of envy even jealousy towards a friend, family member or a stranger, and quietly coveted what they had… In extreme cases, as we see/read on the news, jealousy does lead to crimes of passion and acts of violence because somewhere deep in the mind of the perpetrators, they couldn’t reconcile their jealousy with their need to gain perspective and focus on their own lives; instead they chose to focus on their sense of worthlessness and blaming others for their predicament.

I’ll share a simple story: The Story of the Jealous Duck by EOF
Once upon a time, there was a duck who lived with his family and a group of swans in a beautiful lake and he wanted desperately to be a swan. He wished and prayed and constantly stared at himself in the reflection of the water; hoping to one day wake up and become a swan. He fell in love with one particularly elegant swan in the lake who seemed to spend time by herself, and followed her around hoping to become like her.  She was civil, but most of the time she ignored him. Soon, his desire grew into jealousy.  As time went by, his family got quite tired of his misery and anger that they spoke to the swam he admired and asked her to help him overcome his jealousy… She agreed.

The next day, she invited him to tea and proceeded to share the story of the misery that had been her life since birth. She had been abandoned after her mother was killed by a wild dog and the group she followed barely tolerated her. “I envy you when I see how much your family cares, as I have no family of my own.”  The duck was shocked because he thought her life was perfect and wonderful. “It’s a farce, I act like it is because the alternative would be wallowing in misery. I’ve learned to be content with myself, and to appreciate the beauty of this lake. I believe your life will be happier if you do same.” He thanked her for her sound advice and returning to his family, he learned to be grateful for his life and see the love around him. Like the duck, we can accept our lives and leave the petty jealousies and constant comparisons alone… Have you ever been the focus of another person’s jealousy? What are your thoughts? 🙂

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Jealousy lives upon doubts. It becomes madness or ceases entirely as soon as we pass from doubt to certainty.” François de la Rochefoucauld

Inspiration: The Danger of Constant Comparisons... family of ducks

The danger of constantly comparing ourselves to others is that it creates dissatisfaction with our efforts, and makes us focus on what others are accomplishing rather than on what we need to do to move our lives forward. Jealousy is both paralyzing and poisonous because it make us feel angry, inadequate, hateful and ashamed… The fact is that no matter how wonderful the lives of others might appear to us, everyone has something they struggle with; some more obvious than others. The grass might seem greener on the other side but when we take a closer look, we see scourge marks, decay and more. The key is to acknowledge the jealousy and re-focus on our own efforts. A favorite teacher once said “Check out the competition but always be your own competition and aim to do your best work.”

At the end of the day, our self-worth is not tied to how or what others think of us or what we imagine others have that we don’t own, what matters is that we accept ourselves and aim for our own goals and achievements… Be a duck and be happy as one or if you are a swan, then be happy there too.  Jealousy is like poison; a slow and terrible death. Let’s stop the comparisons and focus on our own efforts; our own ideas.
What are your thoughts? What types of things make you jealous and how do you resolve those feelings? Do you envy others and wish them ill will? Do share! Thank you. 🙂

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This post was inspired by a prompt by MamaKat’s Writers Workshop: Write about a time when jealousy got the best of you.

Positive Motivation Tip: We cannot fail when we focus on our own game and aim to succeed instead of comparing ourselves to others.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All photos from my personal collection.

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

36 Comments leave one →
  1. 16/05/2011 12:31 am

    “To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is, a dissatisfaction with self”
    I’ve never seen this before! It’s such a perfect definition of jealousy.

    I can’t recall specific moments of jealousy, for the most part, but I know they’re relatively few. This was as a direct result of witnessing the interactions of my mom with her family, and striving to foster a more collaborative approach to survival with my own siblings. It seemed like we’d all make it happier and healthier if we helped encourage each other instead of begrudging each other his or her particular talents.

    I do feel that things like jealousy, guilt and dissatisfaction are tools. They’re our heart’s way of saying, something about how you’re living is not aligned with how you want to be living. In that way, they’re useful. If they’re things that are possessed instead of assessed and released, that’s a different story.

    I’ve tried to avoid jealousy by living the kind of life that makes me know I wouldn’t trade any small part of it for someone else’s achievement. I’ve definitely stumbled and I’m going to keep on doing so . . . but I’ve found that every harsh word spoken or even thought is a chance lost to think of something beautiful and honor someone, or someone’s memory, in the process of making one’s own life better.

    15-year-old me wouldn’t have seen any of this, of course. She had too many people to tell off. :p

    Fabulous, thought-provoking questions! Thanks, too, for that quote, which I’ll have to share with a couple of friends.

    • 16/05/2011 11:00 am

      Thanks for your feedback Deborah. I think a little bit of the green eyed monster could help some of us move to do better. But, if we are out of alignment with our calling, jealous emotions will not be used well. Invariably, when I think of someone with plenty and what some might call such a perfect life, the universe teaches me a lesson by always revealing the opposite when we get to know each other. 🙂
      All negative emotions begin with dissatisfaction with self. I agree with Joan on that one…

      • 16/05/2011 11:27 am

        I think you’re exactly right. Forget about “familiarity breeds contempt.” It seems instead to build a kind of understanding: well, criminy, you haven’t walked in my shoes–but I see you’ve got holes in your own shoes, too . . .

        Jealousy is like infatuation, IMO. Infatuation in my younger days was the product of daydreaming who I wanted someone to be. I didn’t know enough about them to really know who they were, so I made up who I wanted them to be. Jealousy and infatuation alike involve picking one or two pieces from a whole and blowing them out of proportion to all the thousands or hundreds of thousands of other pieces.

        The more you look at the whole, in each case, the more it’s easy to be realistic and have empathy for the cons that come with each pro.

    • 16/05/2011 8:51 pm

      True and that is why crimes of passion and the like are pathological; someone looses sense of what is real and what is make believe and exaggerates the influence the other has. Perspective is so impt in any relationship or exchange we have with others. Perfection is a myth… Yeah, I love that title of your recent post. 🙂

  2. 16/05/2011 3:38 am

    Well jealousy is not good as the Bible tells us so. We have the fruit of the Spirit or the “old nature” which includes jealousy. Thus, I try not to be jealous. Great story today and the swan! I love photo’s to illustrate.

    • 16/05/2011 11:01 am

      Yes, and it is getting clearer with age that we all have our crosses to bear, and our karma to experience. TY! 🙂

  3. 16/05/2011 8:16 am

    As a counselor I see and hear a lot. When someone expresses envy of someone else’s good fortune, I think if only you could see what goes on behind closed doors! I once heard it said that everyone has a story that will break your heart. So, knowing all of this, do I get jealous? You bet. I’m jealous of people who live in one place for a very long time, own their own home, have friends that go back to childhood, etc. But then, I have a friend who fits that picture who is jealous of me, the one who gets to travel the country, camp in exotic places, meet people of different cultures and climates and beliefs and. . . So, like the duck, I’ll be happy with my life and circumstances. . . or at least try.

    Great post. Thanks.

    • 16/05/2011 11:05 am

      Thank you Cecelia! I can relate because I grew up traveling, moving, and wondering what it would have been like to stay in the place of my birth and watch everyone grow up and so on… 🙂

    • 16/05/2011 11:39 am

      I actually exclaimed aloud when I read this.

      For years before my mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia, she started getting more and more “colorful.” (It was only clear in retrospect there was more to it than being “colorful.”)

      My mom had a really hard life. But sometimes she’d go on and on about how no one else could understand pain, etc. This was one of the big things we’d argue about at the end of my teens. “Dude, seriously, Mom? Do you believe that someone doesn’t know pain just because they have money or a seemingly loving husband or x, or y, or z?”

      I didn’t want to diminish the truth of her own pain, but by the same token . . . there’s so much we can’t see about the people around us, if we don’t take to ask. We don’t know who’s struggling with depression despite their sunny facade, who’s lost a son or a sister or their mom, who’s facing the loss of someone dear to them. The source of pain might differ from person to person, but the truth that we all encounter pain is inescapable. Jealousy to me feels like the product of seeing only one or two good things and ignoring everything else that’s come with it.

      My S.O. works in show biz. I did extra work a few times, but that was as close as I wanted to get. Never in a million years would I want to give up the peace of being outside the limelight, even if being in the limelight earned me a million dollars a month. Some things are more precious to me than money, recognition, etc. It’s all about perspective, I guess? 🙂

      • 17/05/2011 6:31 am

        Yes, it is about perspective and one’s personality type. There are celebrities who live quietly when they are not on a movie set; they don’t feel the need to always be on; which is a real problem for many entertainers.
        I think with maturity and a sense of what matters most, we can choose our path even while making a million dollars a month… Now, I’d love that paycheck… Imagine all the good we do with it? Scholarships, donations, world aid, health benefit gifts to those in need… 🙂

  4. 16/05/2011 9:51 am

    I don’t think I’m really the jealous type. There are some things I’d like, such as I’d like to have more money to make life a bit easier (who wouldn’t), but I don’t feel jealous of Bill Gates, for example. I see a lot of very miserable rich people (Charlie Sheen for example)!

    • 16/05/2011 11:09 am

      There are things that irk me but money is not one of them because I believe in money as a form of universal abundance; an energy available to all. It’s the stupid stuff that riles me… and then I catch myself. Reflection is a great tool for handling feelings of unworthiness. 🙂

  5. 16/05/2011 7:57 am

    greetings and my post on jealousy – if things could talk!

  6. InsideJourneys permalink
    16/05/2011 11:36 am

    I rarely feel jealous anymore but whenever I do, I catch myself. Whatever my friend or relative has is theirs, it’s probably their destiny to have it. It doesn’t mean that I’m less than because I don’t. Something more appropriate for me will come to me when the time is right, when I’m ready to receive it. I really do believe that.

    • 16/05/2011 9:21 pm

      I believe that too… and you know, jealousy, envy, anger are all human emotions and if handled properly, they can be great teachers; by helping us focus on our needs and grow. Experiencing it now and again and moving on is quite fine; the problem is when people loose perspective.
      Like you, I do believe we get our time in the sun when it’s our time; not a minute sooner. 🙂

  7. 16/05/2011 12:54 pm

    I am never jealous or envious of the success of others because I would not want to step wholesale into anyone else’s life.

    As I see it, the goal is not to be better than anyone else . . . but to be better than our previous self.

    To be able to say with conviction: Who I am is who I want to be.

    • 16/05/2011 9:15 pm

      Yep and neither would I… When I read fun quiz questions that ask which famous person you’d like to be for a day and so on, I can’t relate. I don’t want to be anybody else… I mean, what’s the point of wanting to assume someone else’s baggage and karma – even if only as a fantasy? 🙁 That is why I’ve never understood celebrity worship… Perhaps a cultural thing? 🙂

    • 16/05/2011 9:26 pm

      Many people like the idea of being “famous” . . . because they view fame as adding to their “importance.” They worship celebrities because they like the idea of being worshiped by others.

      You and I don’t buy into that nonsense. We know that self-acceptance is the key to happiness . . . not fame nor fortune. 😉

      • 17/05/2011 6:37 am

        So true Nancy! The cult of celebrity has never appealed to me… I don’t get it and don’t care to… Every celebrity I’ve ever met has had joys and struggles, worries and concerns, and appreciate people who don’t fawn over them… 🙂

  8. 16/05/2011 2:30 pm

    Food for thought.

  9. 16/05/2011 4:26 pm

    At the same time, I think that we can take comparisons of ourselves with others as an opportunity for inspiration! If I see someone who is living a life that I might be tempted to be jealous of, I can instead use that energy to create such things in my own life. And I love the story of the duck and the swan! Things often look better from the outside!

    • 16/05/2011 9:08 pm

      Yes Rosa that is true… and a positive approach to self-improvement; use the opportunity for inspiration not jealous competition. Thanks for loving that story, I was inspired by the photos and topic. 🙂

  10. 16/05/2011 5:27 pm

    A great story!
    We have a saying in the UK some people fall in a pile of pooh and they smell of pooh. others fall in the same pooh and smell of Roses.

    • 16/05/2011 9:04 pm

      Welcome back Piglet! Your grand daughter is cute… 🙂
      Yeah, it is all about perception… We can see life and the people in it as pooh or as roses. lol! 😉

  11. 16/05/2011 7:25 pm

    Feelings of envy and jealousy, I try to avoid. It’s being comfortable with yourself and where you are at in your life. I have people around me, whom envy me because I am most of the time a happy person with a smile on my face, and humor in my voice. Lots of people envy this, its because they are not happy in their life-They need to get a life! 🙂 I Like Pip’s thought- 🙂

    • 16/05/2011 9:02 pm

      Oh Penny,
      I had a good laugh over your comment and it is true… If they can’t stand your joyfulness, they can move on. I can understand the pain many have in their lives and how it colors their view of others, but if it’s a temporary thing , it is ok…
      It becomes a danger when people can’t understand that a smiling person has made a choice to see the sun shining that day. We all have our ups and downs… I prefer happiness… Misery loves company and most of us are not interested in joining that club. 🙂

  12. 16/05/2011 7:37 pm

    Hi Elizabeth!
    As I read this on my bunny phone this morning I wondered if there’s someone in your life that you’re feeling a bit envious of? It’s fine to feel jealous and then…let it go.

    • 16/05/2011 8:57 pm

      How perceptive of you BB! Now you know I’ve been eyeballing that red hat of yours for ages… LOL! 🙂
      Jokes aside, the answer is No! This is one of the topics from MamaKat’s Writers Workshop for this week and I chose it because I liked it more than the other 4 topics she suggested.
      BTW, I haven’t seen you post lately. Try the Daily Post or MamaKat’s prompts for a bit of creative juice… I miss your adventures Baxter. 🙂

      • 17/05/2011 7:41 am

        I’m back to posting. I was on holiday for a month! I went traveling so I could have more stuff to post about.

      • 17/05/2011 7:42 am

        And I joined the blog hop again…happy hoppin’

  13. 16/05/2011 9:03 pm

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been jealous. That’s one of the gifts of getting older–I don’t lust after any life other than my own.

  14. 16/05/2011 9:24 pm

    You might be on to sometime Jacqui… the age factor! 😉

  15. 17/05/2011 8:13 pm

    Hmmm, yes, food for thought.

    It’s funny that you wrote about jealousy. Jealousy has been on my mind lately. (Though I still don’t know if I would go with that prompt from the Writer’s Workshop, or choose another.) I’ve been reading the comments here, and most of them say that they became less jealous as they got older. I’m disturbed, because the opposite is happening to me. I didn’t get jealous or envious when I was younger. Now that I’m in my thirties, the green-eyed monster seems to be getting the better of me. I’m having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I’m aging, and also, part of it is probably that I’m not as successful as I had dreamt I would be at this age.


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