Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: You never seem to have a slow week, but Im hoping youll get to my question. How do I force myself to be happy for my friends?
They are all buying houses and taking fabulous vacations, while I am stuck in a studio apartment with no savings and years of student loans. I feel so jealous and angry that I cant fake happiness for them and my only proposed solution is to avoid them until I feel better.
And no, trying to be grateful for what little I do have has not helped me.
HELPLESS IN SEATTLE
It needs to be a slow week for your question to matter? Are you always this quick to negate your own significance?
Yours is a legitimate problem, no less worthy than the others that appear here regularly.
One reason is its prevalence: Theres always someone who goes home to a better house in a better car.
Another reason is the impact: People who envy peers start to doubt themselves, which drains them of the resource they need most (a sense of self-worth), which then leads to reading random ups and downs as part of some cosmic conspiracy against them, which fuels the cycle of envy, anger and self-loathing.
There are ways out but not by forcing yourself to love your apartment. It has to be through what you do. Such as, be an excellent friend/sibling/child/auntie/uncle, or a hardworking employee, a dedicated and compassionate volunteer, a nurturing pet owner, a fierce teammate, an uninhibited playmate/singer/dancer/artist, an insatiable reader, a generous host or cook whatever taps into your best then be proud.
When you love your contribution, thats when youre able to say, Yeah, nice house, but would I give up who I am to have it? No. The fab house would require different choices, after all, and different choices would have created a different you.
Reaffirming your choices inoculates you against envy. Is it perfect, no youll still gawk at a friends palace but itll be a fleeting, not chronic, annoyance.
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