"Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth. You mostly envy those who have what you desire."—Susan Cain
Whether you quietly or openly envy a certain celebrity, while that's not exactly a healthy thing (more on that in just a sec), it's also not totally your fault. The media makes billions of dollars off of promoting the lives of people who may be rich and famous but, at the end of the day, are still just people.
Why do I say that it's not a good idea to be jealous of famous folks (or anyone for that matter)? Well, let's explore what envy and jealousy does to our health, for starters. One study reveals that it decreases the quality of our mental health while another states that it heightens stress, anxiety, passive aggression, depression and even causes us to age at a faster rate. Then there's what it does to us spiritually. An author by the name of Harold G. Coffin once said that "Envy is the art of counting the other fellow's blessings instead of your own." It's like telling God that he loves someone else more than you.
Oh, and the damage that jealousy and envy can do to one's self-image? Don't get me started. Why a lot of us will go to great lengths and expense to look like someone else is beyond me (an interesting roundtable discussion with Black men and women on this very issue is the 50-minute video "The Pressure to Be Curvy").
Unfortunately, we are so inundated (some might even say berated) by celebrity culture that, when a lot of us hear, "Live your best life", we automatically insert someone else's face rather than our own into our mental picture and personal standards.
But really—what kind of sense would it make for me to talk about how counterproductive to envy a celeb if I'm not going to at least try and provide some tips on how to break the toxic habit? If you know that you are tired to opening up your laptop or smartphone and wishing that you had the life—including love life—of someone you don't even know, here's how to get on the road towards changing all of that.
Factor in Their Backstory
When it comes to this point, the first person who immediately comes to mind is the late and great Prince. Anyone who's watched Purple Rain before knows that it's a movie based, in part, on Prince's life; a life that was no cakewalk. Fantasia's story (Life Is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story), Tina Turner's past experiences in the classic What's Love Got to Do with It? and even the VH1 article "These Celebrities' Horrific Childhood Stories Will Make You Hug Your Parents Tightly" are all real-time examples of strength and triumph. They're also reminders that we shouldn't idolize anyone's life. For one thing, we only know a part of it. Plus, there are probably a ton of things that many of them would exchange all of the money and fame in the world to not have gone through if they could.
Remember They Only Post What They Want You to See
Definitely, one of my favorite Kev On Stage videos is when he was venting (or was it ranting?) about how much he hates the hashtag #relationshipgoals. He starts the video off by saying, "Not to be a jerk here guys, but I hate relationship goals. I hate the pictures. I hate the man leading the woman down to the beach. You don't know where they're going. He could be leading her down the path of destruction." Hilarious and indeed. He later says, "You know what real relationship goals are? Hand me some soap because I got in the shower and the soap was little and I couldn't get a good lather…I ran out of toilet tissue and 'cause I had more poop coming than I thought, can you grab it? And it smells awful in here and I shouldn't have had Chipotle, I know what Chipotle does." Kev's point?
The social media world is a mere fraction of what's really going on; some of it is not even as "real" as you think it is.
Listen, I used to do some social media branding for a few folks and when I tell you that their Instagram is very different than their real life? People would be floored if they knew what was really going on. Back in the day, folks had PR people who kind of "controlled" their image. Now there are filters, along with them deciding what part of their life they want to share or not. That's certainly their right, but as you're scrolling down their accounts, just know that the same kind of "editing" you're doing so that people will know more of the good than the not-so-good, celebs are putting 10 times more thought into what they are presenting on their IG and Twitter. (Well, at least most of them are.)
Ask Yourself If It’s Admiration or Jealousy That You’re Feeling
Jealousy. It's so toxic and counterproductive. It reminds me of a quote that I once read by an author named Erica Jong—"Jealousy is all the fun you think they had." Preach.
Besides, jealousy is super unhealthy because there is research that points to the fact that it's rooted in low self-esteem and/or neuroticism and/or feelings of inadequacy. Not only does this mean that being jealous of someone is only making you feel worse about yourself, but the time that you're spending wishing you had someone—someone you probably don't even know and won't ever meet—else's life is the time that you could be working on developing your own gifts and talents, putting a life plan together and getting the relationship that you so deserve. Then you could start turning the jealousy that you're feeling into admiration. You could respect the accomplishments certain celebrities have made and use that as inspiration to do great things as well.
Not only that, but rap artist Lecrae once tweeted a great point about jealousy that all of us should keep close to heart; especially if your jealousy has you out here being a hater (or troller)—"Jealousy will have you gossiping about people you should be learning from."
Admiration is what fuels you. Jealousy is what drains you. Remember that.
Keep in Mind That Envy Is So Beneath You
The first step out of something that isn't serving you well is to admit that you are struggling in that particular area. Let's begin by tackling the difference between jealousy and envy. Some believe there is a clear distinction in the sense that if you're jealous, you're consumed with thinking that someone will take something (or one) that you already have while if you are envious, you're out here coveting what others have. Then there are those who think that envy is a more intense and destructive form of jealousy.
Personally, I think it's a little bit of Column A and a little bit of Column B. What I can promise you is if you don't get a hold of this green-eyed monster, in any form, it can start to take over your entire life. Next thing you know, you'll be out here being the living definition of the Mark Twain quote—"Man will do many things to get himself loved; he will do all things to get himself envied." In other words, since envied motivated you do/be/get more, you'll think that you need to be envied to stay motivated.
It's exhausting to be out here always wanting what someone else has and/or always trying to top the next guy; especially some guy who has no clue who you are. Those of us who grew up in church, we heard, at least a dozen times, that what God has for us is for us. Rather than spending/wasting hours each week looking at what celebrities have and envying them because of it, why not be grateful for what you have and figure out what else would complement your life and lifestyle instead? God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). He doesn't love you any more or less than anyone else. Trust that what he's got for you, he'll get to you. And what he has for someone else? The same points apply.
Know There Are Probably Things YOU Have That THEY Want
I know someone who is constantly comparing her physicality with famous women. She's constantly talking about how much better her life would be if she had hair like so-and-so or a shape like such-and-such. I'm not gonna give y'all the exact thing that I said because…that's not important (wink), but the gist was, "The very women you wish you looked like are always getting left by some dude. Clearly looks are not what holds a relationship together."
At the end of the day, all of us are just people. Some of us have more money or are more well-known, but we're all fallible and battle with insecurities. Believe it or not, there's a huge chance that if you sat down with your favorite celebrity and compared notes, there is at least one thing in your possession that they wish they had too.
A philosopher by the name of Peter Deunov once said, "You are jealous because you are unaware that everything you need is inside you." To that, I say, don't sell yourself short. All of us have things that someone wishes that they did. Celebrities are not exempt from this point.
Focus on Your Purpose, Not Others’
Before I started mostly writing in the relationships lane, I was an entertainment writer. A lot of the people I met? I can honestly say that I wish I never had because who and what I built up in my mind was so much better than the real thing. Don't get it twisted. Being famous is not automatically synonymous with being happy, polite or self-fulfilled. Anyway, if there is one takeaway that I got from most it's that putting time into one's purpose will always pay off.
I might be in the minority when I say this, but I think one of the reasons why a lot of people are envious of celebrities is because they aren't aware of and/or fully invested in their purpose. The reason why they aren't is because they aren't clear on what exactly their own purpose is (check out "5 Signs You Are Living Your True Purpose" when you get a chance). If they were, I'm not sure how much room jealousy and envy could take up in their world.
There are some celebrities that I dig. No doubt about it. But I'll be honest with you—my life is so full that there isn't a lot of time to be out here wanting what they have (or what they appear to have). I'm trying to maintain my own.
Your purpose is just as relevant as the next man and woman. Honor this fact by choosing not to envy anyone. Including a celebrity. Your purpose, your life in general, deserves so much more than that. So do you.
Featured image by Beyonce/Instagram