Envy by Mandy Jansen (Flickr Creative Commons)
The last book I read in 2013 was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and what a great way to finish out the year! I’ll post more of a summary about it the next time I do a book review post, but if you want a taste, check out my Mom’s review of the audiobook version here. (Yes, I know, shameless plug, but what can I say, she does great reviews!).
Anyway, a passing comment in the book mentioned that the people we envy show us something about ourselves—they show us what we truly want at the deepest level of our lives. I thought about this idea and decided to reflect on the people that I personally envy and specifically what I envy them for.
First I wrote out a short list of people that inspire the feeling of envy or jealousy in me (sort of the opposite of positive visioning I guess, and strangely satisfying). Next I went back and wrote out a sentence or so next to each person’s name trying to get as specific as possible about what I envied them for. Finally, after I’d written a couple sentences for each person, I went back and bolded the words that popped out to me from each of those sentences.
And here’s what I came up with:
real. express. share. beautiful. magical. power. passionate. happy. place and people. born to do. persistence. process. indispensable. connected. caring so much. speaking truly and authentically. positive. looks. decorating her life with beauty. kindred.
It was a really informative process for me. While some of the words describe a specific trait, I can tell that there are underlying emotions and energies as well. I’m not 100% sure yet what the list is telling me, but I definitely see authenticity, connection, and vibrancy as being key. There’s something about authenticity in particular, a kind of sparkle that it brings to someone’s life that I can’t help but envy and admire.
Of course who’s to say if the people I listed actually feel the way that I characterize them in my mind. They may in reality feel small and unheard or frustrated with where they are in life. But that’s not really the point. It’s more about understanding what desires I project onto other people and why. And it’s also interesting to note which people in my life I think to when I do this exercise. Usually it’s people I haven’t heard from in a while or that I’m not especially close to, which adds support to the idea that they might not actually be the way that I think they are. Regardless, it was a quick and fun experiment and something I might think about trying again the next time I hit a crossroads in life.
What do you think your envy words would be?