You may think that I am always happy and content to live on less, but if you really got a glimpse into my brain you would see that I am constantly fighting the urge to compare myself to others. I sometimes feel jealous of people who have fancier things than we do even though we make a conscious decision to save our money (a.k.a. paying off our loans) instead of spending it.
When I was in college I was very idealistic. I figured that if I joined the Peace Corps I would be removed from most material possessions and all my stupid materialistic wants would fade away. During my brief stint as a PC trainee in Jamaica I found that I still had materialistic wants and desires. Instead of fawning over Chanel shoes and Micheal Kores purses, I found myself wanting cool bamboo earrings and funky dreadlocks so I could fit in with the locals. I was overcome with jealousy and wanted to have all the interesting things that other people had.
It finally hit me after a couple of weeks that I couldn’t run away from the desire to have what other people have. What I can control is how I react to these feelings. I came home from Jamaica very aware that I needed to work on these feelings, and I’m still working on them. I don’t think you can just turn off the jealousy switch.
Every time I want something that someone else has, I’m reminded of Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We all know Violet’s fate and I didn’t want that to happen to me. Going to Jamaica made me realize that I needed a change in my own brain, not location.
Retraining my brain to overcome jealousy hasn’t been easy. Just this morning I was reading a post from another blogger and I found myself wanting all the cool things she was blogging about. I immediately had to tell my brain to stop. Once I identify that I’m being a pathetic spoiled brat, I am able to calm down and be happy for the people that are enjoying the things that they have. Being happy for other people has been the hardest part. It’s too easy to fall into the jealousy trap instead of being happy for other people, but I promise, once you learn to be happy for other people you will feel happier about yourself too. Now, instead of staying locked in my jealousy coma, I try to be happy for other people and realize that I probably have a lot of things that make people jealous too.
Sometimes it is hard to be happy and thankful for the things that we do have. I’m working hard to make a conscience effort to be happy with what I have instead of jealous of what other people have. It’s a work in progress!
How do you deal with jealousy over things that other people have? Are you ever jealous of other people’s financial situations?