How to Rise Above Financial Jealousy
Financial jealousy usually comes from judging a book by its cover, and seeing only one side of the story. You see a successful person driving a fancy sports car and the envy monster comes out. Or, you have a co-worker who is always wearing new clothes, new accessories, and carrying the latest gadgets. Your mind works overtime creating a perfect life around that facade.
But really, you don’t know the half of it. That person could be completely miserable, and may be caught in the downward spiral of retail therapy. They could be massively in debt. They might also work 90-hour weeks at multiple jobs, giving them very little time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. There are two sides to every story, and chances are, you barely know anything about either. So when you start feeling those pangs of envy, here’s how to rise above. (See also: 6 Ways Envy Is Keeping You Poor)
Remember that the grass is not always greener
There is a scene in the movie The Firm that sums this up perfectly. After becoming embroiled with a mafia law firm, Tom Cruise’s character is fighting to stay alive. He’s wealthy, he has everything he ever wanted, but his life is all but over. At one point, his wife says, “Let’s put the books away, pretend we’re back in our old, beat-up apartment, broke, and we find some money we forgot in pockets. We’ll send out for pizza. Drink beer. And watch Star Search.” Times were better when they were struggling, because their happiness did not come from money and possessions; it came from each other.
Someone else may look like they have the perfect life, and never struggle, but money is not the answer to everything. They may even be envious of you, your life, and your relationship with your family and friends.
Ask yourself why you’re so jealous
Sometimes our gut reaction to seeing the wealth of others is to instantly think, I wish I had that. The next time that happens, follow it up with, but why do I want that?
Let’s take the guy with the super expensive sports car. Sure, it’s flashy and can do 220 mph. But when can you ever go that fast on American roads? Do you know what kind of mileage it gets? Chances are, it’s one horrendous gas guzzler. The maintenance on those cars is prohibitively expensive. The tires cost a fortune, as does the insurance. And then there’s the fear of leaving it anywhere it could get scratched, dinged, or stolen.
Your current car may not be flashy, but it does the job, it’s reliable, and you don’t worry about it when it’s not parked safely in your garage. And this is just one example. Houses, expensive clothes, jewelry, gadgets, and designer trinkets can consume you. Consider that the next time you see someone driving a Lamborghini.
Look at what you already have
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average household income in 2014 was $73,298. If you plug that into the website Global Rich List, you can see how you compare to the rest of the world; the result is staggering. With an income of just under $74k, you are in the top 0.11 percent of the richest people in the world. Raise that to $100k and it becomes 0.08 percent. Think about that for a second.
Many people have limited access to clean drinking water and healthy meals. For some, health care is nonexistent. Many people live in shanty towns, are homeless, or struggle to put food on the table every day. When you find yourself wishing for things another person has, consider that you are wealthy in the grand scheme of things. Let’s not forget, we live in a society that eats food before and after a main meal. Appetizers and desserts are commonplace for us, but exorbitant luxuries for many. Perspective is everything.
There are more important things in life than money
When someone says, “Money cannot buy happiness” your natural reaction is to respond with something like, “Well, it sure makes things a lot easier.” And that’s true. Money can buy travel, shelter, and experiences. It can give you peace of mind. But, it cannot buy the most important things in our lives. Health, for instance. Imagine waking up tomorrow to find out you or a loved one is very sick. Your financial jealousy immediately flies out of the window. Who cares if Mr. Jones has a brand-new BMW? You just want good health for yourself or your loved one.
Money cannot buy real, unconditional love. Possessions can bring happiness for a little while, but most of them become next year’s Goodwill donations or eBay sales. When we have the love of wonderful people, great health, enough to eat and drink, and plenty to laugh about, we are rich indeed.