Envy happens in my gut not in my head. It's a disturbing and tumultuous sensation that combines jealousy, inspiration, and regret simultaneously. I admire an attribute or skill that you have — maybe an aspect of willpower, passion, humility, confidence, or commitment. I find it appealing and I’m intrigued enough to want to try it myself. Envy motivates me to examine the tiniest details of what I admire — to deconstruct it so I can reconstruct it.
Here are a few examples:
One friend is genuinely complimentary. Her first response after greeting someone is to acknowledge a strength she sees in them. She was unaware of her pattern until I mentioned it. As a result there’s a natural humility and honesty to it.
I admire the comfort another friend has when he is receiving compliments. He considers what was said without embarrassment and assesses its truth, commenting on it in the moment. For him it is a conversational exchange. I like that.
A colleague pauses before answering a question. His eye contact continues as he considers the content and the intent behind what has been asked of him. His answers reflect this additional thoughtfulness. People feel heard and seen.
A dear friend is a brilliant writer. Her way of phrasing new thoughts is inspiring. I read her compositions eagerly and they're always satisfying. I'm not sure imitation is the best form of flattery, but it's a place to start while my own flair develops.
There are so many ways change happens. Wanting something is one of the catalysts to the action of change. So when I admire something you do in your special way it signals a new possibility for me. Before there is even awareness of the determination to change, I’m trying the trait on for size and comfort. By mimicking what I see — acting “as if” the characteristic is natural for me — I can be playful with it. Inspired by a desirable new outcome I weather the awkward strangeness of trying something new.
It's easy to fall into the trap of believing that envy is a negative emotion. But by embracing it I'm learning the opposite is true. Envy comes unbidden. As soon as I free myself from judging it, I investigate what I admire, why it appeals to me, and how I can adapt it to fit my way of being.
There’s no bitterness or despair with my experience of envy. There’s the joy of discovery and maybe a little frustration that comes with the perseverance that is part of developing new skills.
When envy arrives, change is in the air.
Thank you for modeling traits for me to admire.