Jealousy and Envy

Jealousy is an emotion; the term generally refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and envy over relative lack of possessions, status or something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a comparator.

Jealousy often consists of one or more of emotions such as anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness or disgust. In its original meaning, jealousy is distinct from envy, though the two terms have popularly become synonymous in the English language, with jealousy now also taking on the definition originally used for envy alone.

Jealousy is a typical experience in human relationships, and it has been observed in infants as young as five months. Some claim that jealousy is seen in every culture; however, others claim jealousy is a culture-specific phenomenon.

Jealousy can either be suspicious or reactive, and it is often reinforced as a series of particularly strong emotions and constructed as a universal human experience. Psychologists have proposed several models to study the processes underlying jealousy and have identified factors that result in jealousy. Sociologists have demonstrated that cultural beliefs and values play an important role in determining what triggers jealousy and what constitutes socially acceptable expressions of jealousy. Biologists have identified factors that may unconsciously influence the expression of jealousy.

Throughout history, artists have also explored the theme of jealousy in photographs, paintings, films, songs, plays, poems, and books, and theologians have offered religious views of jealousy based on the scriptures of their respective faiths.”

Envy (from Latin invidia) is an emotion which “occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it”.

Bertrand Russell said that envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness. Not only is the envious person rendered unhappy by his or her envy, Russell explained, but that person also wishes to inflict misfortune on others. Although envy is generally seen as something negative, Russell also believed that envy was a driving force behind the movement towards democracy and must be endured to achieve a more just social system. However, psychologists have recently suggested that there may be two types of envy: malicious envy and benign envy—malicious envy being proposed as a sick force that ruins a person and his/her mind and causes the envious person to blindly want the “hero” to suffer; on the other hand, benign envy being proposed as a type of positive motivational force that causes the person to aspire to be as good as the “hero”—but only if benign envy is used in a right way. Envy and gloating have parallel structures as emotions.”


These two are not uncommon is the world we live in. They can be a motivator for achievement and they can have a much more negative effect. The extent to which each of us is “blessed” by them varies. Some have them in spades so to speak. Some comparison lies aback them both as does insecurity.

Insofar as I can tell I am not personally troubled to a great extent by these things manifesting in me. Back when I was much younger, I was envious of those who did not have loads of zits and who had not had an itinerant childhood. I have never really felt the urge to bring another being down because of envy. I have experienced some measure of jealousy whilst in relationships, the cause of which was a lack of trust induced by the behaviours of the other person. But by and large I am fairly free of these two green-eyed monsters.

Well it is easy for you! Up until I finished my first degree I was always pretty good doing well, somewhere around the 75th percentile in achievement. I played rugby but never excelled. I was perhaps of above average physical attractiveness and ability but had a few hindrances in relationships because of my {then hidden} introversion. But along came my Ph.D. and six papers during its course. Now I was precocious. I started to stand out a little more. It was around then that I first started to notice people behaving oddly towards me. I could not put a finger to it, but with retrospect it looks like the green-eyed monsters.

Why is it that we have tall poppy syndrome both on the micro scale and others? Why do we so begrudge? Does it really all come down to comparison?

In social-climbing terms I do not have some big house, posh car or fancy clothes. I am unemployed. The Joneses have surpassed me, well and truly. But I do not have a whopper of a mortgage, so I need not strive quite as much. Maybe in our twisted world people might begrudge the freedom it brings. My health is not so good, but I do not begrudge others theirs.

These two things jealousy and envy bring dissatisfaction. They are coupled to begrudging and resentment. It may come back to that ever elusive “enough”. What is enough? When is enough?


Having cued this up:

Do I manifest jealousy and envy in my being?

Do I begrudge?

Am I threatened by the achievements of others?

If I stopped making comparisons and got on with my own life would I be happier and more at peace?

What and when is enough?

Will I ever find this noumenon?