I’ve been fraught with envy this past week as my fellow Austen authors and acolytes have been atwitter (and a-instagram and a-facebook) over the 2015 JASNA annual general meeting, which yours truly did not get to attend. Because paycheck.
Envy and Jealousy are usually dismissed as negative emotions, but I find them quite helpful.
They can help you prioritize. They can help you redirect. They, with the right attitude, provide motivation.
For a quick lesson on the difference between jealousy and envy, I defer to Homer Simpson.
Jealousy is why Captain Wentworth proposed. It’s how Emma realized she loved Knightley and in return Knightley confesses his envy to Emma. Each of Jane Austen’s novels have characters who experience these emotions.
In my own life, I’ve used envy and jealousy to more positive ends.
Envious of a friend’s promotion? I didn’t want her to fail at her job. I just wanted more out of my own career and solicited her help in planning out my next moves.
Jealous of how my brothers get together at the gym without me? I’m not about to get up at 5am for a run (who in their right mind would??) so I found other ways for us to hang out…in the afternoon.
I’m skipping over the interim steps. The angst. The whining. The gallon of ice cream eaten straight from the carton.
There are so many awful quotes about jealousy – how it is hateful or destructive or selfish. People assume jealousy will lead to resentment or anger.
But I prefer this one:
“You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.” ~ Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
And wanting something for yourself is the first step in getting it.