There is a certain artist who fills me with jealousy whenever I see his work. I’m jealous of his success and his art. It’s not a nice feeling to have. And then the self-recrimination begins. You should work harder. Be more productive. Be more efficient. Be more ___.
So I search my evernote for an antidote, and I find two things I want to share with you.
First. Julia Margaret Cameron, the author of the Artist’s Way, says that jealousy can serve as a compass. When you are jealous of someone, think of what part you are really jealous of. It may indicate that you secretly wish to be doing that part for yourself. Your soul is calling for you to do something and that something is in the vicinity of what the other guy is doing.
Thinking about Cameron’s advice yesterday, I realized I wasn’t jealous of anyone at work. I work with and for a large group of accomplished and brilliant professionals. But here’s the thing, I’m not jealous of any of them. This is a great clue. My soul is not seeking to achieve anything more in the business arena. I am not a slacker by any means. In fact, I excel at work. I attribute most of that success to the fact that I’m an artist. Therefore, my work benefits from the fact that I’m an artist.
But boy, when I survey my life and see who I’m jealous of, things pulsate in the art arena. There is this guy who shows his work in museums. He is not that old. And I thinkäó_wow, it would be great to someday show in museums. This is also a great clue. Instead of wallowing in jealousy, I am trying to re-direct it. What might I have to do, so that eventually I could show in museums. Even if it takes 40 years to do it, like painters Carmen Herrera or Katherine Bradford, how would I do it? Jealousy is therefore a compass for finding true north.
Second. James Altucher recently posted an article on jealousy and envy, which I think is also helpful. His advice: look at or imagine all the aspects of the person not just what you are jealous of. Consider his relationships, his family life, his work/life balance, financial circumstances, and his interior life might be like. Now imagine you are him, forever.
Are you still jealous of him or her?
Thinking in this way, I’m not as jealous of the guy. And it’s not because his accomplishments are suddenly less stellar. It’s because I realize I have good parts of my life that I would miss if I were him. I would miss my partner, my family, the financial stability that I’ve built so far. I would miss me.
It’s really in the work vs art dilemma that I need to resolve. I’m working on that.
It’s your turn. I’d love to hear from you. How do you deal with jealousy?