What We Discuss:
- Merriam-Webster defines envy as “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.”
- Envy is rooted in evolutionary psychology as an aid to our survival, but modern life amplifies and distorts it into an overwhelming compulsion that can hurt more than help.
- When envy crops up in our lives, it often contains two different desires within it: a desire for the thing we wish we had, and a desire to “beat” the person who has it.
- Envy could be about wanting something we don’t have, or it could be about being someone we wish we were — or maybe it’s both, and wanting the thing is really just a clever way of trying to become the person who has it.
- Envy can teach us about our genuine desires and goals, helping us focus on what truly matters to us. By practicing gratitude, distinguishing between sources and objects of envy, and acting on insights to overcome it, we can transform envy into a driving force for self-improvement and collaboration, shifting from “this joy is mine” to “this joy is ours.”
- And much more…
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider including your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
Merriam-Webster defines envy as “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.” It’s an emotion tied deeply to the human experience, and we’ve all felt the sting of its intrusion when reminded that someone else is enjoying something we lack. It amplifies our status as have-nots in comparison to the haves of the world, and it stirs in us a primal sense of discontent at this realization. Like all ugly emotions, envy can be insidious and paralyzing. It wears us down. It consumes us. It hurts. But it also contains a ton of information about who we are on the deepest level. In that sense, it’s a gift. We just need to know how to unwrap it.
Here, we explore the mechanics of envy, why it exists and how it functions in human beings, and — most importantly — how we can use it to become happier and more fulfilled people, rather than allowing it to use us. Listen, learn, and enjoy! To solidify your understanding of these game-changing principles and practicals, make sure to read this episode’s companion article here: Want to Overcome Envy? Make It Your Teacher.
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. We appreciate your support!
This Episode Is Sponsored By:
- Airbnb: Find out how much your space is worth at airbnb.com/host
- Momentous: Go to livemomentous.com and use code JORDAN20 for 20% off your first order
- Apartments.com: Learn more at apartments.com
- BetterHelp: Get 10% off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan
- Airbnb: Find out how much your space is worth at airbnb.com/host
- Every Plate: Go to everyplate.com/podcast and enter code 49jordan for $1.49 per meal
- $100 MBA: Listen here or wherever you find fine podcasts!
Miss one of our earlier shows with The 48 Laws of Power author Robert Greene? Catch up here with episode 117: What You Need to Know about the Laws of Human Nature!
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Want to Overcome Envy? Make It Your Teacher | Jordan Harbinger
- Envy Definition and Meaning | Merriam-Webster
- F. Scott Fitzgerald | Lapham’s Quarterly
- How to Stop Social Media Envy from Taking Over Your Life | MakeUseOf
- How to Stop Feeling Like An Imposter | Jordan Harbinger
- Envy | Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Book II – Chapter 10 (Envy) | Aristotle’s Rhetoric
- Envy: The Deadly Sin You Might Just Want to Commit More Often | Big Think
- René Girard: “Today Envy Is the Emotion Which Plays the Greatest Role in Our Society.” | The Book Haven
- Marcel Proust Quotes | Notable Quotes
- Billionaire Charlie Munger: World Is ‘Driven by Envy,’ Not ‘Greed’ | Make It
- The Important Distinction Between Benign and Malicious Envy | Psychology Today
- Max Scheler | Wikipedia
- ‘Green-Eyed Monster’: Shakespeare Phrase Meaning & Context | No Sweat Shakespeare
- Sara Protasi, Varieties of Envy | Philosophical Psychology
- Duana Welch | The Science of Jealousy and How to Manage It | Jordan Harbinger
- The Evolutionary Psychology of Envy by Sarah E. Hill and David M. Buss | Envy: Theory and Research
- Neuroscience of Envy and Schadenfreude | ScienceBlogs
- Why You Compare Yourself to Other People (And How to Stop) | Jordan Harbinger
- Ed Latimore | The Superpower of Ignoring Social Approval | Jordan Harbinger
884: What We Can Learn from Envy | Deep Dive
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Airbnb for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show. Maybe you've stayed at an Airbnb before and thought to yourself, "Yeah, this actually seems pretty doable. Maybe my place could be an Airbnb." It could be as simple as starting with a spare room or your whole place while you're away. Find out how much your place is worth at airbnb.com/host.
[00:00:21] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. Our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker through long-form conversations with a variety of amazing folks, from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, and performers, even the occasional economic hitman, gold smuggler, astronaut, or Emmy-nominated comedian.
[00:00:51] And if you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about the show, I suggest our episode starter packs. These are collections of our favorite episodes organized by topic, and they'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on this show. Topics like abnormal psychology, persuasion and influence, crime, and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:13] By the way, we've got a newsletter. It is new. I wouldn't say I'm not much of a writer, I just haven't been much of a writer. jordanharbinger.com/news is where you can sign up. And every week, the team and I dig into an older episode of the show. Dissect the lessons from it. So if you're a fan of the show, you want to recap of some of the important highlights and takeaways from years past, or you just want to know what to listen to next, the newsletter is a great place to do that. Lots more in store for the newsletter as well. None of which includes me asking for your credit card number or spamming you, jordanharbinger.com/news.
[00:01:45] Today, we're doing a deep dive. Haven't done one of these in a long time. I'm here with Feedback Friday/Deep Dive producer Gabriel Mizrahi. You know him from Feedback Friday episodes. We're talking about envy, overcoming envy. Making envy your teacher, using it to your advantage. Personally, Gabe, as you know from our Fadeback Friday episodes, I am pretty fascinated by envy in general.
[00:02:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, me too. It's a super interesting feeling.
[00:02:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, or whatever it is.
[00:02:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:02:12] Jordan Harbinger: It's one of those feelings that most of us, including me, don't really want to acknowledge.
[00:02:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:02:17] Jordan Harbinger: Let alone talk about with other people—
[00:02:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:02:19] Jordan Harbinger: —in public, in front of hundreds of thousands of people because—
[00:02:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Of course.
[00:02:22] Jordan Harbinger: —it's unpleasant.
[00:02:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:02:23] Jordan Harbinger: It's unbecoming. I'm not supposed to have that. I'm supposed to be above that, as are, as is everyone else listening, right? We're not supposed to feel it at all. We're supposed to choke that ish down. It's not something any of us want to feel or admit to feeling.
[00:02:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. There's a lot of embarrassment attached to envy, which is part of what's so interesting about it.
[00:02:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And embarrassment and envy, those two feelings, they stack on top of each other, right? And they make you want to avoid the feeling of envy or hide it from other people or do mental gymnastics, trying to pretend that you're not really worked up about what somebody else has or did. Even though envy is a very normal human feeling, it's kind of baked into the whole experience of being a human.
[00:03:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, it's one of those secrets we all share, as we talk about on Feedback Friday all the time.
[00:03:04] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. And the less we talk about it, the more shameful it becomes, like most things that we avoid talking about, and the harder it is to understand it and work through it. But, you know, I get that. Envy is uncomfortable. It can be paralyzing. It can really wear you down. It can make you fixate on the wrong things. It can really hurt. And anytime we're going, "Man, I wish I had what so and so has," or, "Man, I resent this other person for having this thing I want," that's already a tough place to be. And I don't know about you, but whenever I have those thoughts, they make me feel just like the most petty, limited version of myself.
[00:03:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure. Yeah.
[00:03:42] Jordan Harbinger: But what I've learned over the years is that envy isn't just normal. It also contains quite a ton of useful information about who we are and what we want and how we are going to go about getting it or how we're currently going about getting it. So that's what I wanted to talk about today — why envy exists, how it functions in our lives. And most importantly, how we can use it to become happier and more fulfilled, rather than allowing it to, you know, consume us, eat us alive, and keep us stuck.
[00:04:13] So let's start by unpacking this concept of envy just a little bit. And bear with us just for a moment here, this might get a tad theoretical. I'm not huge on philosophical fluffery, and I promise we're going to get to the practicals in just a moment.
[00:04:27] So first of all, we all have an intuitive sense of what envy is. Aristotle, the OG philosopher, and I told you it was going to get philosophical, but only for a second. He defined envy as pain at the good fortune of others, which is, you know, apt. He also zeroed in on three elements of the envy triangle, if you will. There's you, the subject. There's the other person, often called the rival, in the literature. And then there's the object, that is, the thing you want, the thing that someone else has that you don't have. And when I say thing, I want to be clear here, the object of our envy can be all sorts of stuff. It could be a skill, it could be a talent, it could be a relationship. I mean, famously, Helen of Troy, something, something wars, right? An idea, a plan, a personality trait, a lifestyle, an asset, social status, even another person in some way. And the list just goes on and on and on. But without that other person in the mix, without the, quote-unquote, "rival," envy would not exist. Otherwise, it would just be, well, it'd be garden variety desire.
[00:05:30] Envy can only exist in a relationship between two people. And that's important because when envy crops up, it usually contains two different desires within it. There's the desire for the thing we wish we had, and there's a desire to match or even beat the other person who has it. And some experts even go a step further and say that that second piece, that's actually what envy is really about. It's not about getting the thing we want. It's about becoming more like the person that has the thing that we want. And if you buy into that idea, then the object of your envy, it's like a mediator, it's a connective bridge for the real desire, which is to take on the qualities that the other person possesses.
[00:06:15] In other words, envy can be about wanting that amazing house, or that great job, or I don't know, a sense of humor that somebody else has. Or, it might actually be about becoming more like the person who has that house, that sense of humor. Or, it could be both, because we've all envied somebody that we think is a scumbag and maybe we don't want to be like them. We just want the qualities that got them the thing we want, we could leave the rest. So, may need a little, may need a little leeway there. But hold that idea in your head for a minute, because we're going to come back to that.
[00:06:44] I also think it's important to distinguish quickly between envy and jealousy, and I think I talked about this with Dr. Drew like a decade ago. These two words, they get used interchangeably these days. Maybe it doesn't matter anymore, but they're actually two very different emotions. Envy is wanting what somebody else has. Jealousy is about guarding something we don't want to lose. Of course, envy and jealousy can coexist. They overlap all the time. For example, you can be jealous of a friend who's spending time with a new person, and you can be envious of that new friend. Or, you might be envious of another person's wealth, which drives you to be more jealous of the assets you already have. I like to separate those two out so we can be precise, at least for the conversation we're having today. Today, we're talking about envy, we're not talking about jealousy.
[00:07:34] All right, now that that's out of the way, let's dig into the envy thing even more. Because a really interesting thing about envy is not all envy is created equal. There are actually different forms of envy. In fact, there are two main kinds of envy, benign envy and malignant envy. And these might be self-explanatory, but you know how we roll. We're going to get into that stuff too. By the way, malignant envy is also sometimes called invidious envy. It's a little bit too much of an SAT word for me. Gabe will probably use that forsooth. I know he likes to flex on us with his five-dollar words.
[00:08:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: I knew you were going to say that. Just for that, I'm going to use the word invidious as much as possible on this episode.
[00:08:17] Jordan Harbinger: Great. Good. Invidious sounds like a technology company, actually.
[00:08:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: It does.
[00:08:21] Jordan Harbinger: Or something.
[00:08:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Nvidia.
[00:08:22] Jordan Harbinger: That is where my mind goes. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:08:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: It also sounds like, it kind of sounds like a horror movie as well, right?
[00:08:26] Jordan Harbinger: It does.
[00:08:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: Like a horror movie about wishing you had what somebody else has.
[00:08:30] Jordan Harbinger: It does.
[00:08:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Invidious. Ethan Hawke is definitely in that movie.
[00:08:32] Jordan Harbinger: I think there's a horror movie called Insidious—
[00:08:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Insidious.
[00:08:35] Jordan Harbinger: —which is why—
[00:08:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's what I'm thinking of.
[00:08:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, and I saw that movie.
[00:08:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:08:37] Jordan Harbinger: And I didn't understand it. I had to ask a friend. Either way, I'd watch that. I'd watch a horror movie about wishing what somebody else had. That's actually, that's the real, that's the real terror. Saw off your ankle, not a big deal. Watch other people get things you think you deserve — oh, that burns.
[00:08:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: Nightmare.
[00:08:52] Jordan Harbinger: Let's make this even simpler. There's good envy. There's bad envy.
[00:08:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:08:57] Jordan Harbinger: Good envy, that's the kind of envy that admires somebody else, admires what they have, makes you try to emulate the qualities of that person. If you've ever looked at somebody successful and you thought, "Man, I wish I had that kind of career. I want to be the kind of person who loves what they do, makes tons of other people happy. I need to level up the way they did so I can succeed like that." Then you know what benign envy feels like.
[00:09:19] Benign envy, it brings you closer to ambition, inspiration, achievement, rather than keeping you in the longing of envy itself. The rival is still there, of course, but in benign envy, the rival is helping you see the value of the thing you want. They are embodying the qualities that make getting that thing possible. And they're making you want to develop those same qualities too, so it becomes fuel. Also, in benign envy, you and your rival could both possess the object, and it would be all good. It's not a zero-sum game.
[00:09:53] Now, bad envy, malignant envy, that's a very different experience. This kind of envy can include elements of benign envy, but with the additional desire basically that the rival lose the possession in question, too. So, in other words, it's not good enough that you possess the object. You want the other person not to have it, too. It's very zero-sum. If you've ever looked at somebody successful and thought, "Man, I should have that kind of career instead of this clown," or you fantasized about somebody failing while you picture your own success, then you know how different this type of envy actually feels.
[00:10:26] Malignant envy, it comes with way more distress, more tension, more paranoia sometimes. It creates a mindset that views life, again, as a zero-sum game where for you to win, the other person really has to lose. The thing you want, it still matters. Part of the reason, and sometimes a big part of the reason it matters so much, is that only you can, or only you should, be the one to possess it. And if you've ever felt that — and we all have at different points in our lives, no shame — then you know how different this brand of envy is from the previous one.
[00:10:58] So, look, we could parse this stuff to death, but for me, what this envy thing really comes down to, it's some form of pain. If desiring something you don't have comes with distress, anxiety, insecurity, hostility, self-loathing, resentment, anything like that, then there's a good chance your desire has tipped over into envy. And from there, that envy can stay in the realm of benign envy, maybe it makes you want to work harder or try something new. Or, it can mutate into malignant envy. And suddenly, you're stewing in resentment that you don't have what the other person has, and you're also low-key wishing that they didn't either.
[00:11:37] Oh, you're a business competitor, you don't just want to make your company better, you want them to die in a fiery crash? That's not healthy. And not that we haven't done that, but it's not healthy. And look, there are degrees to all this, right? Envy can be strong, it can be weak, it can be overwhelming, it can be mild, it can be debilitating, it can be tolerable. The spectrum on this stuff is huge, so if you have a little bit of it and it's not ruining your whole life, you know, don't let it. But if we're really honest with ourselves, we'd probably have to admit that envy is usually pretty damn unpleasant. And if it weren't, we wouldn't try so hard to avoid feeling or talking about it.
[00:12:13] So, let's talk about it. Let's talk about how to understand it, how to work with it, how to turn it into something we can actually use to enrich our lives rather than making us miserable. So the first thing we have to accept is that envy is totally normal. It is hardwired. And that's because envy has important evolutionary roots. I mean, just think about it. We live in a world of finite resources, at least that's what our brains have evolved to believe to keep us alive. So the person who can keep tabs on how much food they have, what their social standing is, whether they're safe relative to other people, that would give them a major survival advantage.
[00:12:50] Researchers have pointed out that comparing ourselves to others, yeah, it's a source of a lot of pain, but that kind of pain? That actually helped keep our species alive for a long time. But self-comparison also plays a huge role in our self-evaluations. We look at what other people have, we tally up what we don't have, and we then use that comparison to make a judgment about our own status, our own self-worth. So our brains envy other people, not just to stay alive, but to understand how we measure up. And, you know, when it's envy involved, we never quite measure up. That's the whole thing. It's all part of our operating system, like desire and fear and anger and all the other emotions. Most of us, we don't need to self-compare in order to live another day anymore. Although there are obviously people in some parts of the world who do, but almost all humans still do this. Because that's what the machinery is designed to do, and then they experience the pain of envy as a result.
[00:13:50] So, I don't know about you, that makes me feel a little better when I remember it, right? I'm thinking like, oh gosh, I'm hit with this pang of envy, which still happens to me from time to time. Of course, my first move is to take a step back from my primitive mind and notice what it's doing. I'll go, oh, okay, funny, there's my caveman brain obsessing about what other people have again. Brain going to brain. It's not personal, it's not some highly personal flaw, it's the, again, the caveman programming, to a large extent. And when I do that, when I remember that, the envy almost immediately begins to lose its edge. From there, I can separate out these automatic cognitive processes from my true feelings about the person or situation at hand.
[00:14:34] And there's like no one too dear to me to be compared to me in a negative way when I'm in that mode. I can go, okay, I wish I had fill in the blank, so-and-so's massive audience, such-and-such endorsement deal, so-and-so's travel schedule, or the respect of total strangers who might be robots on social media. But then I go, do I really want that? Why do I want that? Would that really make me happier? Do I need them to lose that stuff for me to enjoy it? Or do I just envy it because it's something I don't have and my brain is just clicking into that mode?
[00:15:06] And Gabe, I also recently realized that if you want something somebody else has — I think I heard this from Ryan Holiday, who writes a lot of really good stuff — you have to trade your whole life for it, not just the parts you want.
[00:15:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm, okay.
[00:15:19] Jordan Harbinger: So if you want Springsteen's music career, okay, you can have that, but you need a terrible childhood, tons of pain, relentless hours on the road, damaged relationships and no relationship or whatever with your dad.
[00:15:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:15:33] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, fine. You can have that career. Do you want it? Do you still want it? You want Brad Pitt's life? Okay, you got to take his divorces, his estranged children, his addiction issues, the stress of being a celebrity, and no privacy. Yeah, you got to take all that stuff. So, when you think about it that way, the whole story, the envy wants to tell me, it just starts to break down—
[00:15:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:15:57] Jordan Harbinger: —really, really fast. Now, this isn't about choking it down, stuffing it down, that's a different thing. This is about inviting it in, appreciating it, and then investigating it. But we first have to forgive ourselves for having the feeling in the first place, for having the wiring that gives rise to that feeling.
[00:16:15] You know what'll make you the object of other people's envy? The fine products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:16:24] This episode is sponsored in part by Momentous. Live Momentous is widely trusted by professionals with their products being the go-to in most pro and collegiate locker rooms. They're trusted by Olympians, professional athletes, and top teams alike, all who vouch for their quality and efficacy. All products are NSF-certified, which means you get what you see on the label. There's not a bunch of fillers. There's no misleading claims on there, which is rare with supplements. The Live Momentous Sleep Pack is more than a sleep aid. This scientifically backed formulation helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, ensures that the sleep you get is of the highest quality possible. I notice my sleep score go up when I use this stuff. I use it regularly. Convenient single-serve pouches make it easy for you to get your daily dose of sleep-enhancing nutrients. So you can wake up rejuvenated, filled with energy, and ready to conquer the day. It's like the refreshing sleep you get on vacation, but now it's part of your everyday routine. My friend, who's a sleep expert, recommended this, and he gave me a bunch because, you know me, I don't just take all kinds of supplements. I don't think most of them do anything. And I looked at my sleep scores, and they were up. So what can I say? Anecdotal evidence? Give it a shot.
[00:17:23] Jen Harbinger: Designed by the world's best experts, used by the world's best teams and athletes, and made for all of us. Go to livemomentous.com and use code JORDAN20 for 20 percent off your first order. That's livemomentous.com code JORDAN20.
[00:17:35] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is sponsored in part by Apartments.com. Do you fantasize about who you'd be if you lived somewhere different? Maybe you'd surf if you lived by the ocean. Or if you lived by a coffee shop, maybe you'd finally write that novel. If you had a dishwasher, maybe you'd actually cook a proper dinner at home instead of doing takeout every day and get fat like me. With over one million available units for rent on Apartments.com, the YOU abilities are endless. And with instant alerts, you'll never miss out on seeing what could be your new perfect place. Visit Apartments.com, the place to find a place.
[00:18:05] If you're wondering how I managed to book all these great authors, thinkers, and creators every single week — aside from this episode, which is just me and Gabriel Mizrahi, sorry about that — but it is because of my network, and now I'm teaching you how to build your network for free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. We want you to develop skills to make other people, or inspire other people, to develop a relationship with you, and the course does all of this in a non-cringy, non-gross, non-awkward, and non-cheesy way. All practicals, it'll make you a better connector, a better colleague, a better friend, a better peer. Six minutes a day is all it takes, not even really. And many of the guests on the show subscribe and contribute to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company, jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:18:45] Now back to our deep dive on envy.
[00:18:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: It really does begin with that willingness and, yeah, it's just sort of like avoiding the impulse to pretend it's not happening or to hide it because it is so shameful to your point at the beginning. And once you get to that point, then you can start using envy to teach you what you really want.
[00:19:04] So, look, the first flush of envy is always pretty gnarly, right? You meet somebody, or you read about somebody, or you see somebody give a talk or whatever, and you notice that they have more than you, or you have less than they do. And suddenly, you're experiencing all those feelings you just described. But, if you resist the urge to stuff all of that down or push it away, then you can sit with your envy for a little while. Take it apart and start treating it for what it is, which is information. And then, you can actually use your envy as a kind of beacon that's pointing you to what really matters or what seems to matter to you, and you can make it a kind of teacher.
[00:19:42] So let's take an example that we hear on Feedback Friday a lot. And it's always some version of, "Look, there's this person at work, they're absolutely crushing it, maybe they deserve to, maybe they don't, I can't really decide, but really I just feel this low-key envy all the time and I can't get over it." In situations like that, one of the best things you can do is just stop, accept that you're feeling the envy, and start dissecting what's underneath the feeling.
[00:20:08] A great first question to ask is, what do I envy about this person specifically? Is it their status in the office? Is it the money they make? Is it their future prospects? Is it the quality of their work? Or are you not even sure what you envy and you're just having a sort of generalized knee-jerk response to a person who's doing better than you? Once you get clear on that, you're already one huge step closer to appreciating something about you, what you want for your life, what you believe is important, what values you hold.
[00:20:38] And by the way, when you ask yourself those questions, you might really be surprised by some of the answers. Like, if you really sit with them and try to get specific, you might find yourself going, "Oh, okay, so what I actually envy in this colleague is how other people treat them. But like, why do I want other people to treat me that way? What need would that fulfill for me? Is that actually what I want? Or do I just want to be good at my job for its own sake? You know, maybe that's what I really want, to be good." This kind of dialogue with yourself is super helpful because now you're interrogating the feeling, right? You're not just settling for the top line, simple feeling of, "Ugh, screw that person. They have what I want. I should be the one to have it." you're turning to this feeling you're having and you're going, "Okay, I hear you. You're making yourself known. It's unpleasant, but I have to acknowledge it. But what are you really trying to say?"
[00:21:25] In my experience, whatever answer comes back is ultimately great, as long as it's honest. So if you go, "Okay, I actually envy this person because they're making 40,000 more than me and I want that money too." You know, fair enough, that's a legitimate desire. If you go, "Okay, actually, I've thought about it, and I actually don't really envy this person for their talent, I envy them for their status in the office. I wish people treated me more like that." That is also meaningful, and it's a great insight. But then, you get to decide if those are worthwhile desires to pursue. These things that you envy might not ultimately make you happy. That's another dialogue you can have with yourself. But it can be meaningful that you want those things in the first place. And hey, maybe they would make you a little bit happier, and that's, again, totally fair. But you can't know that until you acknowledge them and dissect them.
[00:22:17] So, do that, and keep digging, and keep interrogating. You know, you could ask yourself, Okay, I want that money, but why do I want more money? Is it to flex on other people? Is it to feel more secure? Is it to feel powerful? Is it just to have more fun? And if so, what kind of fun? You know, like, does the kind of fun I'm into require that much more money? Or do I want it for some other reason? Or look, let's take the other example. Why do I want people to treat me a certain way in the office? Is it because I want to feel appreciated? Which, by the way, is a perfectly reasonable thing to want in an office. Or is it because I want to know that I'm being taken seriously? Or is it a social status thing? Do I treat people that way myself before I expect them to treat me that way? Or do I just want them to treat me that way so I can feel kind of okay?
[00:23:02] You can see where I'm going with this, right? You can keep digging into this as long as you want. You can go deeper and deeper into your envy until you hit some fundamental need that usually underlies all of the rest. Or, you do this exercise and you realize that the thing that you are envious of, you're not actually envious of at all. You thought you wanted more status, but when you unpack that need for validation or that need for power, you discover that you don't actually need that to feel okay. Or, you might get it, but it would come at some other cost that your envy just refuses to even acknowledge because it's inconvenient.
[00:23:36] Either way, you'll be in a much better position because then you'll know what you really want or what you don't want and I can almost guarantee that the envy will be a lot easier to manage at that point. The distress that comes with envy might even go away entirely, which means you might be out of the malignant envy, the invidious envy that Jordan was talking about earlier and back into the benign envy. Or you might be out of the benign envy and you're just in this place of like, "Oh, I would just really like to have a little bit more power and money and attention one day, but not at somebody else's expense."
[00:24:09] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Yeah. I mean, I kind of want a beach house, but I don't really want other people's beach houses to burn down so I can have it.
[00:24:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly.
[00:24:15] Jordan Harbinger: But also it's not a core part of my identity. So it's just nice to have. But right, the path from malignant envy to benign envy is introspection—
[00:24:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:24:25] Jordan Harbinger: —from the sound of it, parsing the feeling for the data that it contains. I totally agree with that. But you know, in my experience, sometimes you do that and you still fricking feel envious.
[00:24:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:24:36] Jordan Harbinger: You know, sometimes knowing what your envy's trying to tell you, it's just not enough to make it go away.
[00:24:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:24:41] Jordan Harbinger: Or you have to remind yourself 58 times. So when that happens, I think it's important to recognize what envy does to the people around you. As I mentioned at the top of the show, envy turns a person who has what you want into a rival. And just by possessing something of value, that person automatically becomes a competitor. And it doesn't matter who they are before that, that's the key, right? And what usually ends up happening is we struggle to see them as a full person with their own legitimate desires who just happens to have something we want. Instead, we tend to see them primarily not as a model, but as an obstacle. And the only solution, the envy wants to tell us, of course, is to tear that person down even if it's just in our own minds. Even those scales a little bit, make ourselves feel better. But the irony is, The price for that, it only gets higher.
[00:25:32] The envy, it grows stronger, which is more unpleasant. The other person usually picks up on that. Senses are resentment, hostility, avoidance, whatever. And then we deprive ourselves of that person's presence or influence. Because we're either pulling away from them or we're wishing them ill. And fine—
[00:25:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:25:50] Jordan Harbinger: —if the person's a freaking bastard and you don't care about them, there's less consequences here. But this really sucks when it's like your friend that you grew up with who got a kick-ass job and their life is going well, or your friend got pregnant and you can't right now, so you're demolishing your relationship with them. It's just, it hurts everyone, right? They become sources of conflict, of distress, and rather than be friends, peers, role models, teachers, you can't stand the thought of going over to that jerk off's house. He's just doing it to show off his new job. Or like, "I don't want to meet your kid, you just had a kid to piss me off," right? I mean, like, it's a ridiculous thing to say, and yet, somewhere in the back of our mind, that thought kind of exists in some form or another.
[00:26:29] So, when you get hit with a wave of envy, I would ask yourself, how that envy is shaping your perception of the source, your relationships in general. Are you viewing your, quote-unquote, "rivals" with curiosity and admiration, or are you viewing them with resentment and fear? Is your life more productive and more inspiring when you view them with envy, or is it just more limited and painful? And if this is hard for you to do, here's an interesting question. How do you feel when other people view you with envy? Do you feel more secure or do you feel less secure? Do you feel more connected to them or less connected? More comfortable, less comfortable, more willing to help them or less willing to help them?
[00:27:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:27:15] Jordan Harbinger: I think we all obviously know that envy never helps a relationship. It only detracts. It compromises. It poisons the well. It never brings us closer to other people. It only pushes us and them further away from each other, which is ironic because the one thing envy seems to want is to get closer to being more like that person. And probably, the worst thing you can do is piss them off for no good reason, right?
[00:27:39] So when it becomes hard to shake this feeling, I would just check in with yourself. See if your envy is giving you the most helpful lens on that relationship or situation and ask yourself if there's another way to view it. The envy might still remain, but at a minimum, it won't be the only lens you view the whole world through.
[00:27:59] Now, from there, it becomes a lot easier to remember that, as we mentioned before, life is not a zero-sum game.
[00:28:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, man, that's such an important piece of this because part of that caveman programming you were talking about is this idea that there will never be enough of something to go around. If someone else has something, you can't have it. If you have something, somebody else can't have it. And look, that might be true in specific situations, right? Like in a company, not every single person vying for promotion can get the promotion, obviously. Or not everybody can date the same person. So, in certain situations, life really does seem like a zero-sum game.
[00:28:37] But the larger game, like life broadly speaking, is rarely, if ever, a zero-sum game. If you zoom out far enough, It rarely works that way, or it doesn't have to work that way, and there's more than enough to go around. Life can still be competitive, but it doesn't have to be zero-sum. Part of the envy experience, especially with invidious envy, with malignant envy, is the belief that our success and other people's success are fundamentally incompatible, right?
[00:29:04] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:29:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: The logic of envy says, "Well, if my colleague has everyone's respect in the office, that means I can't have it too." Or, "If so-and-so fell in love with that person I like, that means I can't be happy." And by the same token, envy also wants to say, "If I can get that respect, or if I can get that partner, then they can't have it. And that's the only way that I'm going to feel better." But either way, envy forces you to view the world through this very limited, like you said, Jordan, limited and limiting prism which is stressful, and petty, and frankly just creates a lot of unnecessary pain. So, this is another mindset that I think we all have to deliberately work to break.
[00:29:40] And the way to break it is, first of all, ask yourself if the situation you're in is truly a zero-sum game, or if your brain just wants to view it that way. Again, oftentimes, these situations that seem so binary, either they have it or I have it, are actually a lot more flexible, a lot more ambiguous. We tend to fixate on super specific outcomes, like, a specific partner, or a specific job, or a specific trait, and we ignore all the ways in which we and our, quote-unquote, "rivals" can both possess the same objects. They might not literally be the same object, like you might not both date the same person, or you might not sit in the same office with the same title, but that doesn't mean you can't work toward having those same experiences down the line, or work alongside your rival in a different form, like with another partner, or a different job, or that trait in yourself.
[00:30:27] Now, if it is truly a zero-sum game, like in the promotion example where only one person can get the job. Then the other thing you can do is dig deeper, like we just talked about a moment ago, and ask yourself what it is you really want out of that object. Like, what would that promotion give you? If it's respect, or money, or power, or the opportunity to do more meaningful work, I can almost guarantee you that there are other ways to pursue that, either in your current job, or by looking for a new one, or by seeking those things out before you try to get promoted. Or let's take the relationship example again. If what you're really looking for is connection, attention, security, I can almost guarantee that you can find those things in your own life, either in existing relationships, or in other new ones, or even with yourself. Or, you can look for ways to contribute to your rival's success, which allows you to share in their experience of those same things that you want.
[00:31:19] So, another example, and by the way, another scenario we hear quite a lot on Feedback Friday. Let's say that you go for a promotion, you really want it, but you lose out on it. Your colleague gets it. You have two choices. One is you could withdraw from them and kind of distance yourself and lick your wounds and start to sort of tear them down mentally. Or you can support them and you can help them shine and you can stay close to them and pitch in so you can learn from them. Oftentimes, taking that tack actually allows you to enjoy a lot of the objects of your envy even more than if you got the thing you really wanted because you're not pursuing it to prove something or to take something away from somebody else. You're pursuing it because it's actually meaningful to you. And you're happy to access those things, those experiences, or those assets, even through another person's win.
[00:32:03] By the way, this is what a lot of our listeners end up doing when they realize that their envy is not going to ultimately help them get ahead. But their willingness to champion the people around them, even if they just lost out on something they want, that is going to help them. And it's a really beautiful thing to see because like you try to be envious for a while and you realize you're not getting any results, then you're like, maybe I need to think about this in a whole new way. What usually ends up happening is when you stop viewing everything as that zero-sum game and you start viewing it as a collaboration, you tend to generate new opportunities kind of, it almost happens automatically in this weird kind of mysterious way. Another promotion pops up, you know, six months down the road, a year down the road, and now you've proven that you're ready for it, that you deserve it.
[00:32:45] Or you create that promotion by putting in the work and not being paralyzed by your envy. Or, say, maybe you find another job at another company that is ready to reward you for your work and you jump over. Or, again, to go back to that earlier example, suddenly, a new prospective partner enters your life. And instead of stewing in resentment that you couldn't date the other one who didn't work out, or pulling away from that, quote-unquote, "rival" of yours who did get them, or finding ways to break them up like it's some kind of terrible rom-com from the late 90s, you remain close to these people, you remain happy for them, and you have more of yourself to bring to that new relationship that comes along. Or, you know, who knows, that other couple actually introduces you to somebody because they see that you're a wonderful person who does want the best for them. I mean, this stuff happens all the time.
[00:33:29] Every single example I just mentioned, I'm pulling from the last three, four years of Feedback Friday emails. So that's another way to work with envy when it appears. You know, we have to choose to think about other people's successes as net positive. You know, we have to find ways to celebrate them almost as if they were our own. And we have to trust that somebody else's success doesn't automatically imply our failure or mean that we're never going to be able to get those things to. And even if they do in some way in the short term, you can deliberately choose to not buy into that mindset too much. And that has a way of changing the outcome, too.
[00:34:01] Jordan Harbinger: Man, that is so true. Even if you don't feel that to be true, even if you're a hyper-competitive sociopathic monster who just wants to get ahead at other people's expense, you could still pursue this idea selfishly.
[00:34:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:34:16] Jordan Harbinger: Because you know it works.
[00:34:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:34:18] Jordan Harbinger: Because a zero-sum game mentality doesn't help as much as a collaborative one even for people who really do believe that somebody has to lose for them to get ahead. And that's pretty fascinating. It's funny because I talk about this in networking, too. People are like, I just can't get over the idea that I should do this when I don't need anything. And I'm like, the smartest networkers, they're almost indistinguishable from somebody who's like a manipulative sociopath in so many ways because this is the best way to do this. So like, even if you're just a horrible, horrible person who only wants things for themselves, the best thing you can do is still help other people without the expectation of anything in return, right? And do it a lot.
[00:34:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:34:56] Jordan Harbinger: Because it doesn't really cost you anything. Same thing with envy. It's like just using this to make yourself better. You can be like, "I don't care about other people and I do hope they die in a fiery crash, but I'm still going to use them as motivation to get ahead" because this is the way to do it. But also, of course, as you know, another thing that I find really difficult about envy is that it makes me fixate on what's out there, on what other people have, what I don't have, and it makes me lose sight of my own wins, which are, of course, obviously, far more important.
[00:35:27] So, another powerful tool for coping with envy is, as corny as it might sound, taking stock of what you do have. Again, our brains are designed to obsess about what we don't have because knowing what we already possess was far less useful for survival. In other words, we're not hardwired for gratitude or whatever you want to call it, we're hardwired for scarcity. Our brains are really good at discounting or straight-up ignoring those gifts when they're fixated on what other people have. The best way to control for that obsession is to take stock of all the things you do have — the resources, the qualities, the relationships, the knowledge, whatever, all that.
[00:36:07] So the next time you're wrestling with envy try asking the following questions. Which qualities — so talents, skills, expertise, personality traits — do you possess right now? Which relationships — with family, friends, colleagues, even yourself — are you lucky to have? Which cool experiences, events, trips, projects, stories, conversations, have you been fortunate to be a part of? What do you have now that you didn't have a year ago? What did you have a year ago that you didn't have the year before that, right? This is basic stuff, and yeah, it's basic stuff. And I usually throw up in my mouth a little bit when the word gratitude comes up, and I know I'm not alone with that because the word just gets used so much. It sounds like some crap you read on an Instagram quote, right? But it's crucial, it's real. And it's the first thing to go out the window when you're feeling envious, at least for me.
[00:37:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:37:00] Jordan Harbinger: When you stop overlooking these assets, though, when you make an effort to truly appreciate them, the envy has a way of ratcheting down. Sure, you might still want something somebody else has. Fine, okay. But you're also back in touch with what you do have now. And oftentimes, what you do have is even better. For example, when I find myself wishing I had a bigger audience for this show, for example, or more brand deals, or more speaking gigs, or whatever, the second I take inventory of the fact that I've got an amazing wife, two wonderful kids, a great team, I have work that I love, it puts everything into perspective, and there's no way I'd trade those for another three million listeners. And if I do achieve that goal, guess who I'm going to share it with? It's not that some random podcaster who's Instagram post from Tulum, about he's crushing it, you know, triggered my envy. It's going to be my wife, Jen, my kids, my team.
[00:37:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:37:54] Jordan Harbinger: But the envy has just, it's got a talent for blinding me, to all of that, which is another reminder just not to take it too seriously.
[00:38:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Also, another reason that gratitude is important, if you envy someone for what they have and you want to achieve it yourself, the only way you're going to get there is by capitalizing on the assets you do have right now.
[00:38:12] Jordan Harbinger: That's a good point. It's so dumb, but it's almost as if the envy blinds you to the very assets that would help you achieve what it says it wants.
[00:38:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:38:20] Jordan Harbinger: It's like saying, you need to drive more carefully. Here's a blindfold until you start doing that. It just makes no sense. It's completely illogical in that respect.
[00:38:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly right. In fact, I would argue that the only way to productively use your envy to get ahead in life is to also be grateful for the position you're in now, even if it's not exactly where you want to be. That's what creates the healthy push-pull of desire and appreciation, right? Like, ambition and contentment, it's when those two things lose their relationship with each other that you really get into trouble. Like, when you either want what other people have with zero appreciation for what you already do have, or when you settle for what you have because you're like, "Oh, this is as good as it's going to get," and you don't long to grow and achieve new things.
[00:39:04] Jordan Harbinger: You know, I guess another way of saying this is, gratitude is almost, it's like self-envy.
[00:39:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:39:09] Jordan Harbinger: If you're busy envying yourself for the things you already have, it's a lot harder to envy other people for things that you don't.
[00:39:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well said.
[00:39:16] Jordan Harbinger: And the idea here is to admire yourself for the things you already have. Almost as if you were looking at yourself as a third party. You turn your envy inward and apply it to yourself. So, make it a habit to take stock of what you have, especially when you find yourself caught up in envy, but even if you don't, notice what this practice does to your impulse to compare yourself to other people, which, as they say, is the thief of joy, right? It's a recipe for unhappy life, comparing yourself to other people. See if that gratitude makes the objects of your envy more attainable or less attainable. And I promise that they're going to make them feel more attainable, or who knows, they might instantly make the envy disappear, and it's funny how that works.
[00:39:57] Speaking of gratitude, we'd be grateful if you'd support the fine products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:40:06] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help. Exploring leaving a faith, embarking on a self-discovery journey, or trying to decide on a major relocation? Life's crossroads can be both exhilarating and daunting, and therapy can be a trusty compass guiding you through uncharted waters. People think therapy is just for those who've weathered life's biggest storms. For sure, it's beneficial for navigating those kinds of challenges, but let's keep it real. Life, it's like that surprise pop quiz you never studied for. Delving into therapy can empower you with the tools to face challenges head-on and decide your next steps with clarity and confidence. And if the idea of therapy has ever piqued your curiosity, dip your toes in the water, man. Get in the pool. Better Help is worth exploring. It's all digital. All you need to do is take a swift questionnaire. It'll match you with a qualified therapist. And the best part is if you don't click, you can just change therapists without any hassle or extra cost.
[00:40:51] Jen Harbinger: Let therapy be your map with BetterHelp. Visit betterhelp.com/jordan to get 10 percent off your first month. That's better-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:41:00] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is sponsored in part by Airbnb. Whenever we travel, we enjoy staying at Airbnbs. I love that many properties come with amenities like a kitchen, laundry machines, free parking that's not fricking 60 bucks a night. Having a backyard is nice, especially when we bring the kids around. We've stayed at an Airbnb in Kauai that had, like, an outdoor shower, so we built one at our own house as well. And we find that Airbnb hosts often go the extra mile to make our stays special. They provide local tips, personalized recommendations, sometimes a welcome basket. I know you guys are sick of my banana bread story, so I'll spare you on this one. There are a lot of benefits to hosting as well. You might have set up a home office. Now, you're back in the real office. You could Airbnb it, make some extra money on the side. Maybe your kid's heading off to college in the fall. You're going to have that empty bedroom. You could Airbnb it, make a little cash while they're away. Whether you could use a little extra money to cover some bills or for something a little more fun, your home might be worth more than you think. Find out how much at airbnb.com/host.
[00:41:57] This episode is also sponsored in part by Every Plate. With back-to-school season here, let's talk meals. For value without sacrificing taste, try Every Plate. It's America's best-value meal kit. Every Plate is 25 percent cheaper than your usual grocery haul. And here's a twist. Every Plate's new dinner to lunch dishes means you cook once and relish it twice. And it's not just reheated deja vu. Think sweet soy chicken tacos one night. Chicken stir fry the next day crafted to give you variety and they're delicious. We use Every Plate all the time. It's way cleaner than eating out always and forget grocery runs. Meals are ready in six easy steps. Saving you money, saving you time. And for you sustainability champs out there, Every Plate is making a diff. They offset all delivery emissions, use top-notch ingredients like sustainably sourced seafood, and their packaging is largely recyclable. And the best part is you'll never hit a food funk. With 26 rotating recipes and a smorgasbord of sides, snacks, and more, your taste buds are in for a treat. Get started with Every Plate for $1.49 per meal by going to everyplate.com/podcast and entering code 49jordan. everyplate.com/podcast, the code is 49jordan for $1.49 per meal.
[00:43:03] If you like this episode of the show, I invite you to do what other smart and considerate listeners do, which is take a moment and support our amazing sponsors. All the deals, discount codes, and ways to support the show are at jordanharbinger.com/deals. And you can also search for any sponsor using the AI chatbot on the website as well, jordanharbinger.com/ai. Thank you so much for supporting those who support the show.
[00:43:24] Now for the rest of our deep dive on envy.
[00:43:29] So Gabe, at the top of the episode, we talked about those two sides of the envy triangle, the person you're envious of, and the thing they have that you want.
[00:43:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:43:37] Jordan Harbinger: I want to come back to that now because I think that holds another key to the envy puzzle, which is distinguishing between the sources and the objects of your envy.
[00:43:48] So I'll tell you a quick story now. Years ago, when I was still doing some informal one-on-one coaching, and it seems like a lifetime ago, my God, I met a young woman. Her name was Hannah. She worked in PR. She was a few years out of school, out of college. And one of the things we ended up talking about was her professional envy. And basically, what had happened was while she was at the PR firm, her best friend had, for a long time, for years, had landed some dream job in corporate communications at a really big, well-known company, and suddenly she was experiencing this weird sense of envy that she had never had before. So we dug into it together and one of the things I asked her to do was to identify the source of her envy. And she was like, "Well, obviously, it's my best friend." And I was like, "All right, so, what's the object?" And she's like, "The job, dummy, you know, this dope corporate comms job." And so we dig into that, kind of the way you described earlier, Gabe. Like, what is it about the job? What would that job give you that you don't have now? Is it money? Is it prestige? Is it access? Security? You know, what is, basically, why do you want those things? Why do you want this job? Why do you want the elements that come with the job? And I remember something really interesting happening as we talked, which is that the more she was able to identify the roots of her envy, the less certain she was about what she wanted. It was a funny session and a funny paradox.
[00:45:06] So at a certain point, I'm like, "Okay, so what's happening right now? What are you thinking? What are you feeling?" And she just looks at me and goes, "I think I just realized I don't even want to be in PR. Not that I don't want the job."
[00:45:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right, right.
[00:45:18] Jordan Harbinger: "I don't even want to be in this stupid ass industry that the job exists in."
[00:45:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:45:23] Jordan Harbinger: Now I'm confused, obviously, because I'm like, "Oh, may have overdid it a little bit, Jordan." Because the whole reason we're talking about this was that she was so freaking worked up over her friend and this job, right?
[00:45:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right, right.
[00:45:35] Jordan Harbinger: And she still feels this envy, but she doesn't even suddenly want to be in the field anymore. It was bizarre in a way. So, of course, I'm like, "Oh, interesting. What do you want to do?" Thinking like, how do I reel her back in? Or do I need to? And she said, I actually think I want to go to business school, maybe work in consulting, take the PR idea into the world of strategy. So, we keep talking about this for a little while, and I ask her why she still felt envious of her friend, even though she didn't exactly want what she had. And finally, Hannah realizes, "I actually don't want that career, what I want is to be somebody who has a career that they're super excited about, can't stop talking about—"
[00:46:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Ah, yeah.
[00:46:16] Jordan Harbinger: "—a career they find stimulating and interesting—"
[00:46:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:46:18] Jordan Harbinger: "—that has news that's worth sharing—"
[00:46:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yep.
[00:46:20] Jordan Harbinger: "—And I don't want to be in this position, envying what my friend has."
[00:46:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, that is fascinating. So, like, part of her envy was that she envied someone who was settled in a job they love and wasn't envious of her.
[00:46:33] Jordan Harbinger: Bingo. Yeah, her envy was more about her friend's characteristics than about her friend's job. It's like—
[00:46:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:46:38] Jordan Harbinger: —I want to be a rock star. Actually, I freaking don't care about music at all. I have no desire to learn to play the guitar. What I want is, what? Admiration or a job that takes me traveling around the world, right? It's the singular focus that requires to get to someplace great. So, of course, I'm like, great, let's keep going, what is it about this friend's personality that you envy? And the big insight, really what she envied in her friend was her drive to pursue the career she wanted—
[00:47:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:47:03] Jordan Harbinger: —and make a big change. That was, that was it.
[00:47:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yup.
[00:47:06] Jordan Harbinger: So this lightbulb goes off in her head. And you could see the relief on her face, because now she knew what her envy was actually trying to tell her. And it wasn't any of these obvious things like status or money or a business card with a fruit logo on it or whatever. It was something closer to home, a lot closer to home, in fact. A lot more interesting and admirable and frankly, probably more achievable as well.
[00:47:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: Which is exactly what some of those researchers you mentioned at the top say, right? That envy is ultimately about the person who has the thing, not the thing itself.
[00:47:36] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. I'm not saying we can't envy things, we can, but in my experience, more often than not, the things we envy, they're just ways of becoming more like the person who has them.
[00:47:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm, right.
[00:47:48] Jordan Harbinger: And that can be good, or it can be bad, but it's a lot more helpful to unpack your envy through that lens.
[00:47:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:47:56] Jordan Harbinger: So, I always think about Hannah when we talk about this kind of stuff, it's one of the lessons I've tried to take into my own life. And when you distinguish between the source of your envy and the object of your envy, and when you then parse that envy for, you know, how much of this is the person and how much of this is about the thing they have, and then you interrogate that over and over and over again until you really articulate what it is you wish you had or what kind of person you wish you could be. That is usually when you have a breakthrough.
[00:48:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: Uh-huh. And that's the data that helps you turn malignant envy into benign envy, too, isn't it?
[00:48:33] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: And benign envy, hopefully, into something more like inspiration or motivation.
[00:48:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's right. Sometimes, I think that the unpleasantness of envy is just how generalized and vague and all-consuming it can really be.
[00:48:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:48:47] Jordan Harbinger: You know, you just wake up miserable and you're like, "I need more instagram followers," and it's like, do you need Instagram followers or do you want a business that feels like it's growing or whatever, right?
[00:48:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:57] Jordan Harbinger: When you unpack it and you try to figure out what's what it's there to teach you, it just becomes something totally different. And that is usually a lot less painful and a hell of a lot more interesting and actionable. But obviously, it's not the end of the story, because you still have to, speaking of actionable, put your envy into action—
[00:49:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:49:16] Jordan Harbinger: —in the first place. None of the ideas we've been talking about are going to get you very far if you don't get to a place where you're willing to put in the work, whether that's chasing that new job, getting back into the dating world, going back to school, moving to a new city, whatever it is, at some point you have to act.
[00:49:35] So to make all of this super simple and hopefully practical, here's a little invitation for you. The next time you're hit with a wave of envy, big or small, take notice of it, take a step back, then ask yourself, what is this feeling trying to teach me? And I know I sound like Stuart Smalley, I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, whatever. But ask yourself — what is the source? What is the object? What's the wish here? Is it an asset, is it a quality, is it a state of mind, or do you want to move to a big city for action? You know, get real specific here. Why do I want those things is the next question, and keep asking yourself why, because sometimes and usually the first answer is just a bunch of BS you've told yourself that covers another reason or desire. Is the subject or the object of my envy, is it actually meaningful to me? Is this just caveman brain obsessing over what I don't have? See also aforementioned Instagram followers, right? Does that goal make me feel bigger or smaller? Does it inspire me or diminish me? And if it is meaningful to me, what can I do specifically right now, like today, to move myself a little bit closer to that object or person or quality?
[00:50:45] Answer those questions, and you'll find yourself creating a very cool road map for yourself. And it's a road map that's inspired by your envy, rather than poisoned by your envy. But, okay, that really requires you to be in a relationship with your envy, just like all your feelings, rather than denying it, choking it down, sequestering it, whatever you want to call it. It can be uncomfortable sometimes, I mean, it's almost always uncomfortable, but I promise you, it is not more uncomfortable than being paralyzed by envy. And if you can do that, even a little bit, the abyss that envy tends to create between you and your goals, it's going to narrow, and then it'll eventually disappear, and I think you're going to find that you'll become more connected, more inspired, and less ashamed of this secret that we all share. Plus, it's just a more fun and interesting way to move through life, in my humble opinion.
[00:51:39] There's an article we wrote about this. You can find it linked in the show notes for this episode. Transcripts linked in the show notes as per ush. Advertisers, deals, discount codes, and ways to support the show all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support the show. Also, don't forget our newsletter, highlights and takeaways from some of the most popular episodes of the show going all the way back to 2018 when we started this iteration of the show, that would be episode one. jordanharbinger.com/news is where you can find it, you can reply to it. I welcome your passive-aggressive feedback labeled as constructive criticism. People love to do that. I got some constructive criticism for you. You're terrible at life. Go drown yourself. Uh, jordanharbinger.com/news is where you can find it. Don't forget Six-Minute Networking, also at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram or connect with me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabriel at @GabrielMizrahi on Instagram or on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
[00:52:36] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. If you know somebody who compares themselves to others, is envious of you or anyone you know, share this episode with them. In the meantime, I hope you can apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you learn, and we'll see you next time.
[00:53:10] We've got a trailer for our interview with Robert Greene, one of the most acclaimed authors of our time. Robert's insight into human nature is second to none, and there's a reason that his books are banned in prisons, yet widely read by both scholars and leaders alike.
[00:53:25] If we just sit in our inner tube with our hands behind our head and crack open a six-pack of beer, the river of dark nature takes us towards that waterfall of the shadow.
[00:53:34] Robert Greene: Yeah. So when we're children, if we weren't educated, if we didn't have teachers or parents telling us to study, we'd be these monsters.
[00:53:42] We're all flawed. I believe we humans naturally feel envy. It's the chimpanzee in us. It's been shown that primates are very attuned to other animals in their clan and are constantly comparing themselves. Your dislike of that fellow artist or that other podcaster, 99 percent sure that it comes from a place of envy.
[00:54:06] Jordan Harbinger: For sure.
[00:54:07] Robert Greene: You are not a rational being. Rationality is something you earn. It's a struggle. It takes effort. It takes awareness. You have to go through steps. You have to see your biases. When you think you're being rational, you're not being rational at all. You go around, everything is personal. Oh, why did he say that? Why is my mom telling me this? And I'm telling you, it's not personal. That's the liberating fact. People are wrapped up in their own emotions, their own traumas. So you need to be aware that people have their own inner reality.
[00:54:38] People are not nearly as happy and successful as you think they are. Acknowledging that you have a dark side, that you have a shadow, that you're not such a great person as you think, can actually be a very liberating feeling. And there are ways to take that shadow in that darkness and kind of turn it into something else.
[00:54:58] Jordan Harbinger: If you want to learn more about how to read others and even yourself, be sure to check out episode 117 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:55:08] This episode is also sponsored by The $100 MBA podcast, run by my homie Omar Zenhom. Ready to turn your entrepreneurial dreams into reality? Maybe you've already dipped your toes into starting a small business, or perhaps you have a business idea, but you don't know where to begin. No matter where you stand on your entrepreneurial journey, The $100 MBA show offers guidance that can propel you forward. And the episodes have variety, so he'll do Q& A Wednesday. He'll do must-read books. Recently, he did Linchpin by Seth Godin, which I read a while ago. Or stuff that's a little bit more philosophical, Free Ride Friday, Why You Should Live Like Nothing Is Guaranteed. Always new stuff three times a week for you to check out. Tons of content for you to go through. Subscribe to The $100 MBA show on your favorite podcast app. That's The $100 MBA show on your podcast app or 100mba.net.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.