Jealousy Versus Envy And How You Can Use These Emotions To Make Your Life Better

Posted August 9, 2022 by Prairie Wife - 2 comments


We can all close our eyes and think of that one person…or maybe more than one person…that makes us feel wistful.

The family member or friend, or maybe a random person you follow on social media that seems to be doing ALL the things you want to be doing.

Traveling, getting married, starting a family, perfect nails, powerful consistent prayer life, the gorgeous Pinterest perfect kitchen, or home…or birthday party for their two-year-old twins.

It’s okay to feel jealous.

It’s human to feel jealous.

It’s NORMAL to feel jealous.

Expect I’m going to have to tell you that what you’re feeling isn’t actually jealousy.

Brene Brown recently published a book called “Atlas of the Heart.”

The best way I can describe this book is a Dictionary of emotions and powerful explanations of how these emotions can impact our lives, not only in how we feel but in how we interact with others.

In this book, she describes jealousy as “When we fear losing a relationship or a valued part of a relationship that we already have.”

Which I think you’ll agree doesn’t apply to the emotion we feel when we see that our friend Susan just bought a brand-new Jeep Gladiator. Or that Joe (our ex from high school) is obviously living his best, most fulfilling life ever?

So what ARE we feeling when we see what someone else is up to in life and we want the same thing for ourselves?

It’s Envy.

Who would have thought there would be a word and emotion that would make you feel like a bigger jerk than when you admit that you’re jealous?

Brene Brown says, “Envy occurs when we want something that another person has.”

She goes on to divide it into several categories and gives some more details, but I’m going to skip those and instead mention that while at times, Envy can come with hostility, “I want that, and I don’t want you to have it. I also want you to be pulled down and put down.”

It doesn’t ALWAYS happen that way.

Envy can also be, “I want that, but you can have it too.”

That last one makes you feel less icky, right?

So why am I talking about envy and feelings that we don’t usually want to acknowledge because they make us feel like jerks?

Because right now, I want you to take a deep dive into what you’re envious of and what you want in your life.

And instead of feeling bad about it…we’re going to own what we want and figure out how to get it.

Some of you may know that I recently took a three-week, mostly solo trip to Europe. It was supposed to just be England but unforeseen circumstances led to me taking a detour to the French Riviera.

When I went public with my plans, I heard it all, and while there were some genuine well-wishers, there was a whole lotta “must be nice” and “I could never                                  

Fill in the blank with

“never be away from my kids”

“have my husband do all the work for three weeks”

“afford to miss that much work”

And we all know THOSE comments came from envy.

Do you know what my responses were to those comments?

Yes, it is nice. It made saving up for five years totally worth it.

I CAN be away from my kids, I WANT to be away from my kids, I NEED to be away from my kids.

And last but not least, I know if I can handle nine years of my husband gone for five days a week with a varying number of newborns, toddlers, and preschoolers…he can handle three weeks with a 16-year-old that can drive and the youngest who is fully capable of feeding herself, doing her own laundry and cleaning up her own dirty dishes. PS His mom came for a week to help.

Want to know where the idea for this trip of a lifetime came from?


My husband went on two trips to Africa that were both two weeks long. While happy for him, I was also envious.

I love the movie The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet (if you haven’t seen it that’s your homework tonight), and I was envious of the idea of a vacation alone in a quaint English Countryside cottage.

I’m envious of the women I see that can travel the world without a care other than themselves…think Eat Pray Love.

My standard practice when I feel envious of someone is to take some time to sit in it and figure out why.

And in this instance, it didn’t take me long to decide that what I was envious of was solo trips across The Pond. So, when I went back to work five years ago, I told my husband that I planned to set aside some of my money to save up for a trip.

I made little decisions like skipping buying the new shoes and that dress I wanted…because I knew that would add up to one night in an Airbnb cottage in the British Countryside.

I took extra speaking gigs and even emceed at four events in one weekend because I knew that would add up to my plane ticket. I worked out as much as I could that winter so that I would be in shape for all the walking that I was definitely going to do in the Malvern Hills of England.

Over and over, I made a little bit of progress, and it added up to a BIG result.

I was able to take the trip of a lifetime #noregrets.

And all because rather than shy away from my feelings of envy I embraced them.

I shifted my perspective from “I want” to “How can I do this too?”

And made my dream come true.

Did you like this post? Read Part Two Of This Series, “A Little Bit Of Progress Adds Up To Big Results” 

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Photo Credit: Skyla Lee Photography

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2 thoughts on "Jealousy Versus Envy And How You Can Use These Emotions To Make Your Life Better"

  1. Shawn says:

    I would love to chat with you about your trip! This is motivational to me.

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      Hi Shawn! I’m glad that motivated you. I have quite a few posts about the trip including my itinerary and what I did on this blog. If you use the search bar and type in “london” or “France” you should find them.

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