I grew up a terribly jealous child, and I’m glad that it’s something I’ve found an anecdote to as an adult (there are happily far fewer tears over ballet trophies now). I put jealousy and generosity on the opposite ends of a scale, and I have found you can shift yourself to generosity either by effort or conscious choice.
The point of wanting to practice generosity is that ‘like attracts like’, and it’s hell of a lot more fun to be around generous people than jealous ones. Also, when you can be generous with others, you can be generous with yourself, and then failure isn’t such a big deal. I’ve found that loving the process (and not just the outcome) suddenly makes sense when I’m not constantly comparing myself. And strangely, when I love the process, the outcome is better in the end!
Getting to generosity by effort:
When you get to a place where you are working hard enough that you can appreciate the boundaries of your talent and time, you often find yourself able to praise and promote others. Because there’s no shame in knowing your limits after finding them, and there’s so much to appreciate about those who can go further. There’s no losing in that scenario – sometimes disappointment that you’re not the best – but always pride in your effort.
Getting to generosity by choice:
And when you are jealous and judgemental, there’s a lot of valuable information in there. What is it that you feel you could be good at, but aren’t making the effort to explore? Why are you feeling like you are in a zero sum game and someone else’s success is damaging you? When you can answer those questions, you’re well on your way to a better place.
Here’s the craziest thing of all – sometimes the answer to my jealousy question is letting go of ‘fantasy Sarah’ and the crazy ideas I have about how ‘fantasy Sarah’ should be living her life.
That’s where the choice comes in – if this is something that’s for ‘fantasy Sarah’ – can I let it go and be happy for others to pursue it? Because if the answer is yes, I can consciously choose to let this thing go, and what do you know, I swing back into generosity, because “good for them, it’s not necessarily something I would value and invest the time and effort in, but they certainly do, and look at them go for it!”
And if I can’t let it go, then it’s time to get to work (revert to option 1).
What this means for everyone
Well, I think this boils down to one thing – people may find themselves to be jealous and critical (it’s just one of those mosquito emotions), but it’s a choice to stay that way. There’s a certain freedom and dull responsibility when there’s always a choice, isn’t there?