How To Stop Being Jealous Of Your Friends And Start Benefiting From Their Success
The Debrief: The main thing is, just don't be a dick
From the tips of their nose to the tops of their toes, my friends are – to a man – better looking, more talented, kinder, funnier and less likely to go to bed at 9pm wearing a pair of XL men’s hospital pyjamas, than me. And that’s absolutely fine. Because they are my friends. And because your friends’ happiness will, one day, improve your own.
According to a study carried out by researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Bradley University and the University of Missouri this year, spending more time looking at your Facebook friends could contribute to feelings of envy, which could in turn lead to feelings of low mood or depression.
I mean, of course, it’s not quite that simple. The causes and consequences of changes in mental health never are. But feelings of envy are as rife as chlamydia and social media isn’t doing much to stem the tide of either.
But to envy your friends their good jobs, successful projects, beautiful homes, long holidays, mercurial dogs and delicious meals is to miss the point somewhat. If those friends are true friends (as opposed to Facebook friends who are, too often, simply egos with IP addresses) then their happiness cannot harm you. In fact, if you want to be particularly cynical about things, their happiness will probably benefit you. Eventually.
Many of the fine women who commission or employ me these days are people of whom I was furiously jealous just five years ago. When they got the jobs we both went up for, I felt like that YouTube baby chowing down on a lemon for the first time. It was all I could do not to throw my shoe at their throat and go to live in a bin. But, look at us now. Their success has meant I can ride on their coat-tails like a touch-typing parasite. Everyone’s a winner!
Professional leeching-aside, there really is no great need to be envious of your friends. Love, happiness and sex are not – despite what certain newspapers may imply – running out. They are infinite commodities. Just because your friend is having great sex with a man who looks like Adam Driver doesn’t mean you’re less likely to have great sex as a result.
Unless you’re living on an automated submarine, there’s plenty of sex and love to go round everyone. So stop sulking, you squeeze-kneed old boot and see what you can do to improve your life before getting jealous of someone else’s.
Also, at the risk of sounding like the world’s most selfish fauxlanthropist (have I just made this word up?), those lovely houses may be where you get invited for dinner, those dogs may become your Sunday walk mate and those projects might be the creative opportunity you’ve been waiting for. As long as you don’t let your personal envy get in the way of positive progress, then your friends’ advantages can become your own. After all, who among us doesn’t like friends with benefits?
There are a few practical ways to combat jealousy, too, as afforded to me by my friends on Twitter (see? There they go again – being useful). Namely, remember that the people you envy probably aren’t having as wonderful life as you have projected onto them; that you have to accept that there will always be someone more talented than you and, sometimes, that person will be your pal; and even if you’re consumed with envy, doesn’t mean you have to act on it.
This final one is also known as the ‘Don’t Be A Dick’ mantra: you may feel furious, upset, looked over, left out or jealous – that doesn’t mean you have an excuse to act like a prick.
Finally, if all else fails, remember these words of crystal wisdom from my friend Benjamin: when you’re looking at their holiday pictures, imagine they’ve got diarrhoea.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some lemon juice I need to squeeze onto my friends’ bedsheets.
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Illustration: Laura Heckford
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