Taming the green-eyed monster

This past week I've been thinking about another major obstacle to my happiness:  envy.  I have always struggled with that pesky last commandment about not coveting what others have.  Although I would never want to trade entire lives with someone, it wouldn't really hurt to have a nice house like this friend or a sweet part-time job like that friend, right?

I especially hate when someone has what I want as a result of luck.  My confession:  I spent way too long being jealous and bitter at people who got pregnant on the first try (or without trying) when I couldn't.  I had to bite my tongue to keep from pointing out how lucky they were and how they should be appreciative of it (and probably some of them remember that I didn't always bite the words off before they escaped my mouth.  Many apologies to those dear friends).

Fortunately that particular difficulty resolved itself, but the battle with envy remains.  Though I'm getting better about not complaining about the unfairness of whatever situation I'm fixated on at the moment and how others have it so much better than I do, I still think about it.  A lot.  Too much.

Then I read this brilliant quote by a guest blogger on The Happiness Project:

The happiest people seem to be very focused on whatever they are doing. 
Unhappy people seem to be very focused on what other people are doing.

Yes!  I wish I'd thought to put it so succinctly, but I'm going to remember it and remind myself of it whenever I wish for something I don't have.

What I can't change:
Life isn't fair.
I don't always get what I want.
There will always be people who do have what I want.

What I wouldn't want to change:
The charmed life I currently have.  I often tell my husband that we must have done something seriously right in a previous life to be so fortunate in this one.

What I can change:
I can focus on what I'm doing and look to others only insofar as it helps me reach my goals.  Sometimes people get somewhere by luck, but often it's by making choices that are different from mine.  If I want a house with four bedrooms or a part-time teaching job with my mom babysitting while I'm working (you don't mind, right, Mom??), I need to work toward those goals or accept the choices that I make instead.

I have trouble with goals that focus just on attitude adjustments, though.  I'm going to have to DO something in order to distract myself from those envious thoughts.  I hope that when that monster rears its ugly head I'll take it as a reminder to review my Resolutions chart and refocus.


  1. Wow, I really like that quote about where the focus is for happy people. Internal vs. external locus of control - control of our happiness. And YES! I would be delighted to baby-sit.

    The thoughts about difficulty with attitude adjustment goals reminds me of choosing "homework" assignments with clients. It must pass the dead man rule: If a dead man can do it, the activity didn't count. All goals had to be concrete and pro-active. Harder than it seems.

    Thanks for the dialogue.

  2. Thanks so much for stopping by my place, and I'm glad my quote provided fodder for such a terrific post. I love that in your own list, you lead with "Life's not fair."

    My own mom said that alllll the time. She's a great mom. I'll bet you are too.