|Photo by Pro Church Media.|
Envy, as unpleasant as it is, can be a very useful emotion.
Ever since I (nearly) completed The Artist's Way a few years ago I have been trying to use that feeling much more productively. Whenever I feel envious, or jealous, of someone else, I ask myself why. What is the specific thing they have that I wish I had? What is the specific action they are taking to get it? Do I really want to do that, or do I just wish I had that thing? Is there work or sacrifice I'm not seeing to get there? What specific tasks can I do to get myself closer to that spot?
This way, my envy doesn't just eat up my soul and steal my joy but helps point me towards changes I want to make in my own life.
Here is another way envy can be useful: finding your gut.
I came across this idea in the Man Repeller post by Haley Nahman, A Trick I've Learned to Help Me Make Big Life Decisions.
First, the situation: let's say you are trying to make a significant decision, and you are down to a few options. When you weigh the pros and cons, they are all pretty well equally balanced. Some good, some bad. Some risks, some rewards. What do you dooooooo?
At this stage, many people would tell you to go with your gut. (Usually very emphatically: "Go with your gut!") But once you've analyzed a situation to death, your gut may have been pulled in fifty directions or completely covered up by all that logic. It gets confusing to figure out what's gut and what's fear/reasoning/other-thoughts-and-feelings sometimes. What to do?
Here is the trick: use your envy to point you in the direction your heart wants to go.
Nahman says, "I imagine that another version of myself exists — maybe a twin sister or perhaps just a life-long best friend — and then I visualize what decision she could make that would shake me to my core with envy."
BLAMMO! That's the one! That's what your gut longs for!
The key here is that we aren't just feeling a blast of envy at some random point in our lives and then making a decision based on it (a recipe for massive debt, regrettable tattoos, and a pock-marked work history), but intentionally using envy to help narrow down an already well thought-through list of possible actions.
I am excited to give this a try.
What about you? Any special tricks to make big life decisions? Have you ever made envy work for you?
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