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  • Writer's pictureSarah Tian

"When Envy Doesn't Kill You...It Makes You Stronger"

Updated: Mar 6

Think about the last time you felt discomfort when seeing someone you know succeed or get something you really wanted. Feelings of envy can can detrimental effects on our mental health --- it can make us angry, sad, and even hurt our relationships with people we care about.

Nowadays, there are more triggers of envy than ever as we are surrounded by social media posts of our friends' perfect-looking food and vacations. It's nearly impossible avoid feelings of envy.

Do you want to know more about envy? Why do we feel envy, and most importantly, what can we do to take control of our envy and even benefit (believe it or not) from this experience?

Let's find out!

What is Envy? What's the Difference between Envy and Jealousy?

Interestingly, people often mix up feelings with envy with jealousy. I bet you have heard people say "I'm so jealous of you!", but often what they really meant was"I'm so envious of you!" (but you hardly ever hear people say that).

To feel envy is wanting what someone else has and only requires two people - you and the other person. For example, you may envy your coworker in your team who just got promoted, but you didn’t.

Envy has also been described as the "pain" we feel seeing "another person's good fortune" (Tai et al., 2012) accompanied by feelings of “inferiority, hostility, and resentment(Smith & Kim, 2007, p. 49). In fact, a neuroscience study found that feelings of envy activates the brain regions associated with pain!

To feel jealous means “to feel threatened, insecure, or protective of something you already have”, which involves three people. For example, it is common to feel jealous of your partner's friends, because you feel they threaten your relationship with your partner.