Is Jealousy Really a Negative Emotion?

When I was a kid, I stumbled upon the realization that jealousy feels good. I couldn’t understand why everyone was saying it’s a negative emotion. I was always into self-improvement and setting up high goals for myself, so seeing someone have more than me was a big motivator. It also motivated me to covertly bring other people down, but I didn’t care back then. What can I say, conscience develops slowly. Children are somewhat sociopathic, and adults are clearly the better people.

It only hurts me now, because I wish I haven’t used my envy in destructive ways. Hurting someone who doesn’t deserve it is just uncalled for. So I suppose inappropriate reactions to jealousy can lead to eventually developing a conscience and then regretting it.

That feels negative.

grinch

Feels exactly like that

Other than that, jealousy still feels like a positive feeling to me today. It motivates me to achieve more, without hurting anyone who doesn’t deserve it. I’m also discriminating about who I feel jealous of, and what I feel jealous about. I know some things are not worth striving for, and instead dedicate my time to what is worth it. I don’t constantly feel like the grass is always greener on the other side. I never want to “be someone else”. I’m also aware that someone out there is probably jealous of me right now, in some way.

What do you think of jealousy and how do you experience it?

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26 Responses to Is Jealousy Really a Negative Emotion?

  1. Hmm, I think envy and jealousy are harmful things that cause us a lot of misery. Jealousy in the context of love is usually just insecurity and fear of rejection, not to be confused with simply really valuing your relationship. To aspire to have what others have is something different from envy. What’s that saying, imitation is the highest form of flattery?

    • “To aspire to have what others have is something different from envy. ”

      Perhaps. If I envy someone I like, I just admire them more. If I envy someone I hate, I just hate them like before. Maybe a little more.

  2. Liz says:

    Interesting, Emma!
    My initial reaction was to say I don’t think I’ve ever experienced jealousy…but we might be working from different definitions of jealousy.

    I can’t remember ever wanting anything another person has, but sometimes what they have motives/inspires me. For example, when JB initially said she had that book contract I felt two things: First, elated for her, and second, “why haven’t I done that yet?” Hearing that she was working on a book gave me the impetous to get off my backside and write one too (working on the second one now…the first isn’t out yet. What I didn’t know before is that editing and proofreading can take longer than actually writing the thing). 🙂

    Overall (huge knock on wood) I’ve lived a very charmed life.

    • Liz says:

      JB= Judgybitch

    • I think some people are more susceptible to envy or other deadly sins, than others 🙂

      What is your book about? 🙂

      • Liz says:

        The one I’m working on now is an adolescent novel…it won’t be very long, probably 180 pages or so. I’m only 40 pages in. First person, 12 year old girl who resides in an old house with her mother (fixer-upper, going to be a bed and breakfast). There’s an old war dog out who sits by the grave of his old handler and she tries to find out his story…it leads to some capers and eventually love for her mother (a widow).

        The first book (the finished one) is entirely different. It’s more adult, about a mafia mistress who discovers after the first time someone tries to kill her she “comes back” days before. The book is essentially about her attempts to stop the people from killing her, solve a mystery, and eventually save lives. In that order…every time she tries to thwart something or change the “past” things turn out worse. She’s clever, but not booksmart and there are a lot of capers. It’s intended to be a lighthearted, funny read (unless I’m kidding myself). 🙂

      • What are capers?

        I thought both sounded like serious books 🙂 But it depends on how you write it, of course. So it’s a drama, and a crime adventure/humor? The premises sound good so far. How do you get into the writing mood?

      • Liz says:

        Capers are ‘exploits’…adventures, happenings and so forth. 🙂
        Per “mood to write”…I’ve found it’s more the ‘system’ than the goal. For the first book I made it a habit to write three pages per day, usually first thing in the morning. Some days it was more, but three was average.

        Once the habit is ingrained it’s kind of like exercising…you’re kind of automatically in the mood, most of the time, when you start it. That’s how the brain works. Establish the habit and the habit starts to propel you forward. I didn’t really think about the end goal because at the beginning writing an entire novel seemed like such and overwhelming plan. Three months later, I was finished. 🙂

      • Liz says:

        I should add I need to start this habit again with the next book. I work on it only sporadically when I’m “in the mood” and of course…the mood never strikes. But I plan on getting serious this week. There’s been a lot of other things going on and that kind of diverted my attention for a bit…

  3. Eric says:

    The late economic journalist Louis Ruykeyser used to refer to the modern era as ‘The Age of Envy.’ It hasn’t inspired most people to do better at all, except for the Political Left who’ve been benefitting the most from it.

    • Liz says:

      They do say “comparison is the thief of joy”.

      • Agreed, you can definitely go too far when striving for more. Personally, I feel the best when I can both enjoy what I have, AND strive for more. It’s a happy balance.

    • So what did it inspire people to do? Bring people down with them? Compete over how much useless shiny stuff you have? God, I’m really glad I’m not a child anymore.

      • Eric says:

        I think it actually has, Emma. I don’t know about Norway, but the Political Left in America thrives on a culture of envy. Everything they promote is either about bringing somebody down or taking what everyone else has earned. Just like the Russian Bolsheviks of 100 years ago.

        Just look at these scum who were rioting in my city just this weekend:

      • Ah, the link appears to be missing.

      • Eric says:

        Emma:
        This happened in Seattle on May Day.

        When I was a child, we used to decorate Maypoles and give away May baskets on the 1st of May, now it’s a day for unleashing anti-Capitalist hatred.

  4. caprizchka says:

    The choice of how to feel in response to any stressor is our own.

    • Matthew Chiglinsky says:

      … is what an amoral sociopath says.

      • caprizchka says:

        “The first is the stigmatization of healthy, adaptive behaviour that gets labeled sociopathic. For example, if you explain to people (average people) the concept of goal-oriented communication – i.e, the ability to consciously interact with people in a way that advances your interests – their reaction will often be ‘OMG you’re a psychopath.’–http://www.thumotic.com/the-concept-of-psychopathy-makes-you-weak/

  5. Matthew Chiglinsky says:

    Yes, evil does feel good to evil people, and jealousy is evil. So, basically what you’re saying is that you are evil.

    Anger and hatred can feel good too, but once again, only if you are evil. Good people do not enjoy anger nor hatred.

    If you can’t tell the difference between good and evil, then you most likely are evil.

  6. Matthew Chiglinsky says:

    jealousy: “an unhappy or angry feeling of wanting to have what someone else has”

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jealousy

    Yes, unhappiness and anger are generally considered to be negative emotions.

  7. Pingback: Is Jealousy Really a Negative Emotion? | Truth ...

  8. :-p says:

    The Grinch is a mangina

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