Ninja trick for dealing with jealousy


I have friends who claim not to count envy among their personal challenges, and I have had them long enough to know that they’re telling the truth. I still look at them a little bit like I imagine a psychopath must view normal people with their normal emotions: That’s interesting, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. (And, in the case of the psychopath, “Now I’m going to eat/murder/rob you.”) But I’m coming along, really, I am!

One reason is that while I suspect that envy and jealousy have, at this point, been baked in as reactive modes, I’ve found what’s become a sort of curious end-run around them.

Oh, good: that thing is done.

As in, thank GOD. Now I don’t have to worry about painting that picture, composing that opera, writing that sentence, delivering that joke; someone has taken care of that for me. Now I am free to do whatever it is I need to do next, or one of these other eleventy-seven billion things on my to-do list. That other thing. Thank you, Person I Might Otherwise Have Felt Jealous Toward; thank you for that kindness.

A couple of things to note about this newish-to-me way of thinking:

First, it is collaborative. Historically, I’ve looked at the world as this gigantic blank space I’m supposed to paint all by myself, and at a Sistine Chapel ceiling-level, not a Navajo-white, rented-apartment-wall-level. Lately, I’ve been noticing how much easier and more fun it is when I share the work and the credit. Sure, my heart just seized up writing those last two words, but that’s conditioning for you.

Second, it comes hard on the heels of my participation in two highly successful and significantly collaborative ventures: co-hosting the wonderful monthly Biznik meetups with the charming Heather Parlato and co-facilitating the amazing first PresentationCamp here in Los Angeles with the amazing Cliff Atkinson and the equally amazing Lisa Braithwaite. I threw myself into the former not knowing I needed help, but astounded by how much easier and more enjoyable everything was for everyone, myself included, when I was not running around like a chicken with my head cut off. And I signed on to the latter not knowing I’d get volunteered for my least-favorite thing, ASKING STRANGERS FOR MONEY ON THE TELEPHONE, then astounding myself by the reasonably capable job I managed to do. With help. Of course.

If you have no problems with envy or jealousy, good for you! And yes, I envy you for your lack of them! You’re probably already so fluid and open, you’ve figured out five ways to apply the lessons I’ve learned in ways I have yet to dream of. (I know you’ll share them, because that’s how you roll.)

If you’re like me, and have the occasional tussle with the green-eyed monster, give this “Oh, good; that’s done!” thing a try. I’d be interested to hear if it works for anyone else…


Image by r’Eyes via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Hmm…I totally suffer from the same bullshitty syndrome you do, but am having trouble adopting this philosophy. See, because I WANT TO DO IT. I don’t want THEM to do it. Not that I don’t want them to, per se; I just want to do it first and better and chic-er and clever-er. Also: cuter. Because I am so jealous, so often, I’ve decided to just give in and treat it as though it were a gift. Firstly, it’s a gift I can give other people (in my head, that makes more sense/is a more important gift): I tell them quite freely when I’m jealous. Second, it’s gift-esque for me, in that when it rears its ugly head it lets me know what I need to be doing differently.

    It works just fine, but only in conjunction with action. If I’m not actively doing the things that I find most fulfilling, it’s all for naught.

  2. Great trick, now I just wish more people in the stand-up comedy world would follow it. People are under the misconception that there is only so much opportunity in the world and that once it’s all gone, it’s gone. But as we make new strides and people make new breakthroughs, new opportunities will emerge.

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