When Jealousy is a Good Thing


Jealousy is an emotion meant to motivate. It is only a bad thing when you let it make you want to take away from someone else. It is okay to feel jealous as long as it makes you want to achieve more without harming anyone else. You can be happy for someone and jealous of them too, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

The word jealous is best defined as: “Feeling resentment because of another’s success, advantage, etc.,” according to Random House Unabridged Dictionary. This applies whether it is feeling resentment towards that person for their success or whether it is a general resentment of the success itself.

I have a friend that often has said to me, “I’m not jealous. It’s just that when I see these people that have what I want it makes me realize that I don’t have it and I get upset.” That is indeed feeling jealous. The very word of this emotion has such a negative connotation that most people will never admit to being jealous, and will even insist they are not, but their explanation of their feelings and even their actions speak otherwise.

By not admitting it to themselves, people are sabotaging their ability to turn this feeling into motivation. First, you need to recognize when you feel jealous and own that feeling. Don’t beat yourself up about feeling this emotion. Yes, it’s an unpleasant emotion to feel, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a “bad emotion.” And you are not a “bad person” for feeling jealous. It’s a normal, natural, human emotion that all of us feel at some time or another. However, the emotion of jealousy can lead you to actions that will make you either a bad or a good person. It depends on what you do with it. The choice is up to you.

That friend I mentioned, while yes they feel jealous, they also keep it in check. The quote above is usually followed with, “It makes me wonder what I am doing wrong that I don’t have what I want.” Eureka! That’s exactly the right way to think when you feel the emotion of jealousy. That feeling is there to trigger that you have a need or a want that is not being met. The right thing to do with that emotion is to look at yourself and your own life and determine what you need to change in order to achieve your goal.

Obviously, the wrong way to deal with jealousy is to see that someone else has what you want and attempt to take away or destroy what they have (whether it be a relationship, money, a prestigious job, expensive clothing, etc.). It’s easy to do this subconsciously and not even realize what you are doing. Many friendships and relationships are ruined due to bad behavior caused by jealousy getting out of hand. The best way to avoid this from happening is by recognizing your own jealous emotions, taking evaluation of why you feel that way, and looking at your own life to make a plan of how to gain what you need. When you take the emotion and put it back on yourself and your own life, rather than focusing on the other person and what they have that causes you to feel jealous, you then take control of the emotion instead of it taking control of you.

An example from my life where jealousy has been a good thing happened when I was dating the man who is now my husband. We’re the type to never hide our affection for each other, even in public. We were one of the few dating couples at our church even though there was a large amount of single people in the congregation. We were at church one day, standing with our arms around each other, when an older lady approached me and lectured me that, “You two shouldn’t do that! You are making all of the single people uncomfortable because you have what they want.” I pointed out to her that we were setting a good example. Yes, the other people were jealous, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to them. Over the next year we noticed more and more people pairing off and even getting married! They were jealous in a good way. They saw what they wanted and instead of trying to take away from what we had (okay, there were some of those) they evaluated their own life and took action to gain what they wanted.

So the next time you feel jealous, stop and look at this emotion in a new light. Jealousy is a good emotion because it acts as a trigger to point out to you that there is something you need or want that is missing in your life. It’s up to you to figure out how to get your needs met and your wants fulfilled. With some things, gaining what you need or want is not within your control, but it is still up to you to figure out how to live in happiness with your own life. Jealousy is merely a reminder that there is something about your life that you are unhappy with. Turn that into motivation to achieve greater happiness and make your life better. As to how, well, that is completely up to you.

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