The Difference Between Envy and Inspiration
A few days ago, my cousin and I were talking and appreciating how our mindsets have changed for the better over the past 12 months. And he sparked a point about one particular way of thinking that resonated with me in such a powerful and modest way.
From knowing him since forever, his temperament has always interested me. He’s broad and tall with a naturally aspirated bodybuilding frame, and it often gives the wrong impression, especially when he’s pissed off. But recently—mostly over the past year—he changed in a way I could see and even feel instantly from his energy alone. He’s a much happier person, but the details beneath it are what matters. This was someone I knew as, at times, short-tempered, restless, yet rather phlegmatic. But he has completely changed into someone motivated, relaxed and positive—and I said to him I was happier about that than many of my own achievements (because I love when people close to me achieve more for themselves).
During a bit of gaming, he told me that he focuses more now on how he felt when people around him were succeeding. I don’t want to say he was “doing better” than anyone else because life isn’t a competition, and everyone has different paths—even if they’re doing the same thing someone else. But it was the way he turned his mindset about jealousy, envy and inspiration around that had taken a huge leap from one way of thinking as often negative and self-sabotaging to another that drives him and creates positive energy.
For most of us, seeing other people reaching success can put us down. Few things are more stomach-crunching than the feeling that everyone has it together with golden glue while you’re crumbling apart. Especially when it’s the people closest to you. But my cousin put it like this: “when someone else is doing well in something I also want to achieve, I tell myself I want that as well as him rather than I want that instead of him”.
The difference is subtle. But there’s a clear distinction between the feeling of sharing success and taking it all for yourself and bringing people down if you don’t get what you want. To understand it requires Knowing the difference between envy and jealousy.
Jealousy is what we feel when what we already have (e.g. a special relationship with someone) is threatened by someone else. It’s often a three-party game.
Envy is what we feel when we lack a desired attribute enjoyed by another. It’s often a two-party game.
They tend to travel together, but neither jealousy nor envy are good. When you feel jealous, you also tend to feel envious as well. The blend of each can feel like a debilitating kick in the teeth that also breeds negativity and depression, so changing how you feel about the situations in which these feelings occur is imperative.
Everyone has insecurities. And when you show yourself in the world and display your talents, you naturally stir up all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity. This is to be expected. You cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others, nor can you allow yourself to feel this way about them.
So, when you want something other people may have, switch your thinking from “instead of” to “as well as”. There’s enough happiness, money, and success for everyone.
What I’ve Learned This Week
True Excellence is Beyond Words
The more I study what makes a person successful, the more I realise that prescriptions cannot provide the ultimate answer. Articles like “7 ways to get stronger” may seem attractive, but they will never help me be a world-class athlete. True excellence happens at an intuitive level. It is beyond the limits of language.
Maps vs Territories
Teachers give us the map, but not the territory. We all know that some maps are better than others. And like a bad map, a bad teacher will similarly steer us in the wrong direction. Good teachers do the opposite. We follow them for their maps, even if they don’t tell the whole story. Everyone has looked at an accurate map of a place before arriving and thought: “This isn’t what I expected.” And it’s because maps don’t paint a complete picture, no matter how accurate it is. The truth is, you have to experience the territory for yourself. When you do, you develop an intuitive knowledge that you aren’t even conscious of. Like Polyani’s paradox, you know more than you think you know.
The right way to counsel someone
“Most people do not mind being surpassed in good fortune, character or temperament, but no one, especially not a sovereign, likes to be surpassed in intelligence”, said Baltasar Gracián (1601-1658). He was also famous for saying, “When you counsel someone, you should appear to be reminding him of something he had forgotten, not of the light he was unable to see.” This stems from an explanation of how to give advice. It means people are uncomfortable with not knowing and will often feel as if they are being outshined because of what they perhaps don’t know. So, give advice in a way that makes people feel they only forgot something, not as if you are trying to outsmart them.
What’s on My Mind
Here are several Ideas that’ll improve your quality of life so much that you’ll wish you had done ingrained them sooner:
Sleep when you’re sleepy.
Learn to be okay with saying no. Set healthy boundaries.
Learn to get over yourself—you don’t need to worry or justify everything.
Exercise for the mental benefits, not just the physical.
Many people are glad to be older than younger.
Turn off all unimportant phone notifications—they really don’t matter.
Cut out toxic “friends”.
Have a separate bed for you and your partner to sleep alone.
Do yoga. Your future self will seriously thank you.
Buy a few good quality and properly fitting clothes over cheap, fast fashion.
Do breathing exercises; it’ll help your heart rate variability.
Take more walks in rural areas.
Nobody is liked by everyone—so stop caring.
Let your pride/ego take hits when necessary.
Admit your faults. Don’t double down.
Cut down/out alcohol.
Drink more water. Fatigue from dehydration is very common.
Work from home or in an industry that gives you the best work environment.
There’s nothing wrong with seeing a therapist.
Put your health above everything.
Take a simple idea and take it seriously.
— Charlie Munger
“People have been fascinated by the secrets (or science) to vitality and living longer and healthier for quite some time. While we’ll probably never find a magic pell or omnipotence spell to bring us healthy and simple lives, there are more than enough easy solutions we can use to be sustainably happier and healthier over time.”
→ The Science of Longevity — A Guide on How to Live Longer
“While exercise is great for the everyday person, training brings the best out of you. I’ve summarised my experiences as a lifter, coach and athlete into a set of concise principles that I feel are the foundation to successful strength training.”
→ Optimal Strength Training: 10 Tips From a Strength & Conditioning Specialist
Favourite Things This Week
How to write an article, simply.
Are we too busy to enjoy life?
The unreasonable effectiveness of just showing up every day
A Question For You
What’s been your happiest moment this week?
See you again next week.