Jealousy is the creep that hangs out in the back of our minds, chiding us when we are confronted with something we believe should be ours, be it a thing, an experience, or a companion. Jealousy is the one holding us back from enjoying what we do have, celebrating what others have and the joy that they experience. Jealously casts a shadow on our mere presence on this earth and impacts our ability to engage with the world in a way that is helpful or kind. Jealousy can lead us to resentment and relapse and because of its complexity, jealousy is an equal-opportunity villain: it effects men and women alike and gets particularly loud when there is a perceived threat to a coveted relationship or thing.
A way to counteract the negative effects of jealousy and envy is to engage in the practice of sympathetic joy. In other words, find joy in someone else’s successes and accomplishments. This is not an easy feat, especially when you find yourself being suffocated by jealousy and envy on a regular basis. It eats at you, infuriates you, and makes you self-righteous and sharp tongued. This, my friends, is where sympathetic joy is imperative. It is the act that will save your ass in the end. It’s the act that asks you to set aside your ego and be happy for someone else, despite the ache and fury within yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to throw the person a party. But it does require the elimination of gossip and character assassination.
When we are in the mode of jealousy, we are in the perspective of self-centeredness. We cut ourselves off from others, leaving us with a constricted, limited existence, which ultimately has no room for a sense of openhearted joy. It is, in a nutshell, a joyless state. When we are outside of jealously, a sense of belonging and communion can open up. We open the possibility of freeing ourselves from the state of bitter resentment that will otherwise control our lives and lead us back to the drink or the drug.
The world is a huge place, and we cannot expect to be the director, producer, and actor for the entire production of life. Learning to share the stage helps us to let go of our egos, and loosen our reins of control. It is possible to learn to celebrate those who reach emotional success before us or by responding with delight rather than jealousy. We are all in this together, after all, and it is to our benefit to walk this path with as much love and kindness as possible.