It’s happened to all of us.
You are scrolling through Instagram and see a friend’s post about the wonderful vacation they are on. The kids are smiling, they are smiling, pretty much everyone is smiling but you. You are thinking, “This is their third vacation of the year on a cruise and I can’t even afford to go to Grandmas!” And subtly, or maybe not so subtly, you hate their happiness.
Ever had these thoughts:
“I hate that you are so happy.”
“It’s not that I think my life is awful, it’s just that I hate that yours looks better than mine.”
“I hate that you probably look down on me.”
Ever said these things:
“Good for you.”
“Bless your heart.”
“I’m really not jealous.”
“But what about me?”
“You’re an idiot.”
“I actually am jealous.”
Let’s face it. Sometimes we hate other people’s happiness just because we are envious or jealous. I struggle with this too. Pastors are not immune to comparing church success stories and accolades. And when another succeeds, the quickest way we all cope is to just shoot them down, come up with an excuse or quietly loathe them.
Here are a few things that I’ve found helpful.
1. Pray for their success.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” And maybe someone going on a cruise while you stay at home isn’t them actually persecuting you, but the principle remains: Pray for those who bother you.
Pray for their safety, pray they reconnect with family, pray they see the wonder in God’s creation, pray for them to feel God’s love and pray that when they return you can rejoice with them.
This can also be for people who are succeeding that you wish would fail. Maybe they received a promotion you wanted. Maybe everything is great in their family while yours is an episode of Jerry Springer. Just pray for them anyway. Pray that God would bless them and thus they would be drawn to Him.
The great thing about this is it exchanges a feeling of jealousy at their success to the feeling of joy of seeing God work in your prayers.
2. Celebrate with them.
Like their post. Send a message congratulating them. Ask about their trip. All of these things can not only build the friendship but release the power that envy and jealousy can have on us. Take a moment to jot a note and tell them you are happy for them. And if you are not yet, then just say, “Hope you have a great time,” or, “Congratulations!” It’s baby steps, but you’ll be amazed at how praying for their success and then celebrating with them will move you from fake platitudes to genuine excitement for them.
3. Take a social media fast.
It’s no coincidence that the amount of prescriptions for antidepressants continues to rise with the rise of social media participation in our country. We are voyeurs of others’ success and it takes a toll on us. Waking up in the morning and spending ten minutes on social media starts your day off with, “Look what they are doing and you are not.” No wonder we are depressed, jealous and bitter. Take three days away from social media and notice how your anxiety begins to drop, and notice how you think less of how other people have it better than you.
It’s not easy to fix. But it is possible.
Know anyone who could benefit from this? Be sure to share this post and subscribe to my email list to continually receive tips on making real life simple.