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On the Topic of Other People’s Good Fortune

Another keeper from author Elizabeth Gilbert's Instagram.
Another keeper from author Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram.

So here we are, on the cusp of another full year of 365 bright shiny new days.

What are you going to do with yours?

I have to admit, I used to spend a LOT of mine wallowing in jealousy.

Oh I was so envious!

Envious of colleagues for succeeding so much faster and more than me.

Envious of girlfriends who had boyfriends.

Envious of friends with fat bank accounts and exciting travel plans (it was usually easy for me to overlook the presence of their boring day jobs while in the grips of yet another jealous fit).

Envious of the beautiful people – the ones who could go jogging in 110 degree heat and still look sleek and sexy and not at all winded.

Envy, envy, envy. It showed up in every one of those 365 days – on the best and the worst and the days in between.

In short, I wasted a lot of fresh, shiny new days wishing I was somebody else living somebody else’s life.

I don’t do that anymore.

How did I make the switch?

One day I started to tune in not just to my envious thoughts, but to how they made me feel (they made me feel pretty miserable and hopeless, in case you are wondering).

I also started to notice how happy and good I felt when in the presence of rare moments where I felt genuine happiness for someone else’s success.

Right around this time, the life coach I was working with at the time told me I should watch with great attentiveness what I was jealous or envious of in someone else’s life, because this showed me what I most wanted in my own life.

She was right. She was very, VERY right.

She also shared that the deep resonance I was feeling with those things I was envying indicated I might just have it in me to achieve the same. She told me I resonated with those things, those experiences, because they were already inside me too somewhere. 

But then she warned me that I would never find out where, let alone be able to draw them out, if I spent all my time wallowing in envy instead.

In this way, my perspective on my envy began to shift rather rapidly.

Suddenly, instead of intense jealousy, I perceived intense longing. When crowds of envious inner thoughts brought on waves of envious inner feelings, I trained myself to instead tune right in to the deep desire and the fear hiding out underneath them.

I saw that the depth of my longing was activating my fear, and my fear was activating my self-protective defenses, which were manifesting as envy and ill-will towards others who were succeeding where I saw myself as failing.

But with a little corrective help from my life coach and authors like Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert, I began to see how I was spending a lot more energy on fearing and envying than on actually going for whatever-it-was in my own life.

This has really helped me to start brand new years (and there is no one who loves a big bright shiny brand new year like me!) on a much more inclusively enthusiastic foot.

Today I have trained myself to see the success of each person around me as an indication of my ability to succeed in turn. Today I crave building a community of success in which I can participate and celebrate.

Today, each time someone – whether it is someone I know or a total stranger – achieves success, my own resonance with success deepens as well.

And that instant burst of pure joy that arises whenever I spontaneously greet another’s success with happiness rather than envy – well, I wouldn’t trade those brief, brilliant, restorative moments for anything in the world!

Today’s Takeaway: Over the years I’ve learned some people really don’t like new years (or at least feel a bit intimidated by them) while others really love them. Where do you fall – and why? Do you have any particular things you like to do when a new year begins? For this new year in particular, do you carry any special hopes and dreams with you into that fresh notebook of 365 shiny new days?

On the Topic of Other People’s Good Fortune

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Songwriter. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2016). On the Topic of Other People’s Good Fortune. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Sep 2016
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