During a long car ride last week, Greg and I found ourselves listening to Dave Ramsey’s talk radio show.  Since I don’t drive a lot and never listen to anything during the day, it was a rare treat.  Guests on the show included people who were in debt and didn’t know how to get out as well as a few people who had their financial lives together.

Then, later in the program, Ramsey got off-topic and started talking about the difference between jealousy and envy.

Envy, he said, “is when someone sees what you have and wishes they had it.”  However, jealousy “is when someone is envious of what you have, and doesn’t want you to have it either.”


Jealousy and Envy In Real Life

Do you know people in real life who exhibit these behaviors?  I feel fortunate that I know very few spiteful people in real life.  After all, most of my acquaintances are fairly successful at something – or at least trying to be – and every person I call a “friend” is genuinely happy for me.  The online world I write in, however, can be an ugly place.

For example, most of my writing falls into one of three categories- frugality, higher education, or personal finance.  However, I do write for three travel clients- Frugal Travel Guy, Richmond Savers, & U.S. News and World Report Travel.  One thing I’ve found is that travel writing is extremely competitive, and some of the key travel writers seem to hate each other.  This is especially true of a handful of people who write about points and miles, which seems especially sad to me.

I mean, seriously.  Travel hacking is a hobby built around planning free vacationsIt should be fun, right?  Whether you’re planning a holiday to Greece with airline miles or booking a local hotel on hotel loyalty points, the end result is supposed to be vacation and enjoyment for everyone.

But competing travel writers don’t necessarily see it that way.  Instead, a few want to turn it into a giant pissing contest.  In my opinion, this is mainly due to the competition for credit card affiliate commissions and the extreme jealousy coming from those who wish they had a bigger piece of the pie.

Note: Sadly, no one is jealous of my credit card affiliate income.  I typically sell 1-3 credit cards per month on my site!

How Winners Handle Jealousy

Still, winners handle envy and jealousy in a different way than everyone else.  For example, I recently went to a financial bloggers conference called FinCon and met the biggest group of winners I have ever seen gather in one place.  Even though blogging is a fairly competitive industry, the people I met are the kind of people who cheer you on, wish you the best, and actually want you to succeed. 

For example, everywhere I went, I saw people who were networking and trying to learn from each other- not tearing each other down.  They were collaborating, sharing ideas, and building friendships, fully aware that we all have something to teach and something to learn.

In other words, winners don’t cry and moan about how successful other people are; they try to emulate them.

Jealousy and Envy Are a Waste of Time

Although human emotions like jealousy and envy can be hard to control, we should all at least try to keep them in check.  Why?  Because jealousy and envy are a complete waste of time.  They not only get you nowhere in life, but they also leave you feeling bitter and can even lead to lifelong unhappiness.  And worst of all, jealousy and envy don’t look pretty at all.

But don’t take my word for it.  Look around at every envious, angry person you know and ask yourself if that’s how you want to end up.

Chances are, the answer will be no.

How would you describe jealousy and envy?  Have you been on the receiving end of jealousy or envy lately?