5 Ways to Overcome Jealousy

Your best friend makes more money. Your sister has the faster metabolism. And everyone takes better vacations. Don’t sit and seethe. Turn envy into opportunity.

1

Be a copycat.

tablet-couple-walking-beach
Photo by Shout

I have a friend who's going to travel in South America for a year. When she told me, I immediately thought, I'm so jealous. How do I get to go on a trip like that? Use that feeling, and follow your friend's example. It doesn't have to be the whole shebang. Maybe you walk into someone's house and you're jealous of her great kitchen. So you can't do a whole renovation, but you can certainly update or change something that will make you happy. I can't travel abroad for a year. But I can take a similar, smaller step. After my friend's announcement, my husband and I decided to go to Mexico. We had been talking about it, and my friend's news pushed us to say, "Screw it—let's just go."

—Kristy Wallace is the chief operating officer of the Ellevate Network, which connects professional women around the world. She lives in Brooklyn.

2

Practice gratitude on social media.

Comparing yourself to others isn't new, but Facebook and other social-media platforms have certainly made it easier. A study I coauthored found that the longer people spend on Facebook, the more likely they are to experience depressive symptoms. They also might become more jealous, due to personal insecurities. Part of that comes from how you are using social media—say, if you're comparing yourself to idealized versions of your friends. Someone else is always going to appear better than you. So reevaluate. Research suggests that an antidote to social comparison is gratitude. Try some "Today I'm grateful for" posts. It might change your perspective and help you react differently to others.

—Mai-ly Nguyen Steers, Ph.D., is a social-psychology researcher at the University of Houston and a coauthor of a study on the psychological effects of Facebook. She lives in Houston.

3

Focus on your strengths.

So often insecurity is what's behind jealousy—the fear of "I'm not good enough." You need to examine those insecurities in an objective manner. If you're jealous of someone else's vacation photos, I would say, "Where are you feeling that you don't measure up?" Maybe it's that you can't afford that type of trip. So let's look at what you are able to do, the good things in your life. Maybe you have amazing hobbies. You're great at decorating. Rejoice in the good. I always say to people I counsel, "You hold all of the power to not feel this way."

—Shari Sevier, Ph.D., is the chair of the board of directors of the American School Counselor Association and a counselor at Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Missouri. She lives in Ellisville, Missouri.



4

Wallow—briefly—then move on.

Negative states, like jealousy, anger, and hostility, need to be short-lived. It's OK to feel them—that's natural. But you can't let them dictate the next three hours. In the end, being positive is a better deal for you. That emotion, not negativity, will get you where you want to be. So feel annoyed or irritated, but then take a deep breath and let it go. It's not easy, especially when you don't like the person you're jealous of. You have to work up to it. Talk to yourself the way a friend would. She wouldn't say, "Yeah, you're right. You suck." She would say, "You're smart and capable, and things will come together in another way for you."

—Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., is the science director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in Berkeley.

5

Don't hate, congratulate!

As a stand-up comic, I was often jealous of other female comedians' success. I thought, Why am I not on the road? Why am I not in the sitcom? Why am I not winning the awards or making the money? Then I let it go and started applauding them and saying, "If they can get it, I can get it, too." Jealousy can leave you stuck on stupid instead of being a nice person. Once I started to congratulate, I found more success. There's enough for everybody.

—Sheryl Underwood is a cohost of The Talk, on CBS. She lives in the Los Angeles area.