Exercise: The Upside of Envy

Yes, envy is one of the seven deadly sins. It can also be a powerful tool to help figure out what you really want, and how to go after it. The other day I was googling something and came across a former co-worker's website. I was immediately hit with a pang of intense jealousy! She left corporate life to open a yoga studio with an accompanying blog and website. I knew I was jealous, but I wasn't quite sure why. It helped me to write it down and actually verbalize why: she followed her passion, she started a business, she's sharing her passion with the world and she's practicing and teaching yoga for a living! I was intrigued. For me, envy applies to many other aspects of life as well, like envy for those who have advanced degrees, own a house, are compassionate and patient, and for more surface-level things like having a stylish wardrobe. Here's the exercise: Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. On the left, write the names of people you envy (whether its for something they have, something they do, or even qualities they possess). On the right, list all the reasons you are jealous of them. It sounds strange to highlight jealousy or envy when its something so often associated with being negative. But you can put that jealousy to constructive use by honing in on things you want in your future. I encourage you not to censor yourself - write down everything that comes to mind, whether it's something frivolous (like a fancy car) or more substantial (like generosity). Keep this list with you and add to it throughout the next two weeks. At the end, pick-out five common themes, or five things you envy the most. The good news is that you already have a list of people you can speak with to learn more about how each of them got there!

By the time I was done with this exercise, I had almost all of my friends, family and mentors listed on my sheet of paper. I found that for almost every person in my life, there is something they are doing or that they have that I admire and want to strive for. And that's what makes them great people to have around!