When I was a kid I used to get really jealous whenever one of my friends had something really exciting happen to them. I remember when my best friend – I’ll call her Melissa – got to take horseback riding lessons. I seethed with jealousy. Really. Seethed. I thought it was so unfair that she got to do something that fun and I didn’t. I was angry at her. I was jealous. This was probably somewhat normal, but it was a really dark feeling.
Whenever something really cool happened to Melissa I remember saying in my mind, “I wish I was Melissa. Her life is so much better than mine.” These thoughts continued for a long time and repeated every time Melissa was happy or excited and I wasn’t. Then one day something different happened. Melissa came to school excited because she and her family were going to take a road trip to the Grand Canyon. Instantly, the green-eyed monster of jealousy reared her ugly head, “Darnit, I wish I was Melissa!” But this time a voice in the back of my mind replied and said, “No you don’t. You wish you were going to the Grand Canyon. There’s a difference.” Pardon me? I thought. Who’s talking?
I continued my dialogue with this new voice. “But Melissa is so lucky. Her parents take her everywhere!” The voice said, “You didn’t think Melissa was so lucky when her mom cancelled trick-or-treating because she hurt her little sister.” “True,” I conceded, “that really sucked for her.”
The voice continued, “You didn’t wish you were Melissa when you found out her mom makes her go to bed at 9pm and you get to stay up until 10pm.” “That’s true too,” I thought back.
Then the voice said, “Melissa’s life is no more perfect than yours. Stop desiring to be her and simply acknowledge that sometimes Melissa is going to enjoy things that you don’t get to do or have. Why don’t you just be happy for her?”
I silenced the voice at that point. It was starting to bug me because it was starting to make sense. The next time something great happened to Melissa I didn’t have the same ugly reaction. Instead of wanting to be Melissa, I was able to just tap into my real feelings. “Melissa must be really excited. I would be really excited if that was happening to me.” And I could leave it at that. I wasn’t at the point where I could be truly happy that Melissa was getting something I wasn’t, but at least I was at a point of understanding and empathizing with her excitement.
As I got older and more aware I started to tap into the feeling that we are all One. We’re all connected, we’re all part of the same body of humanity. We’re all pieces of Consciousness. This brought on feelings of connection, empathy, love, and compassion with all living things on Earth. When someone was in pain, I felt sad. When someone was excited, I felt happy. It was easy for me to tap into a person’s energy and feel what they were feeling. I started to really appreciate all the experiences other people were having that I wasn’t able to have. I began to see other people as pieces to a vast puzzle of which I was just a small but integral part. Whenever I encountered someone I would think, “Ah, there goes the piece of me that is a male high school football player. And over there is the piece of me who is having the experience of being a cheerleader. And the other day I ran into the part of me that is living homeless on the street.” I began to feel great compassion for the pieces of me that were obviously suffering, and I began to feel great excitement for the pieces of me who were millionaires or celebrities or highly successful. But the thing is I felt like they were all part of me. Their success was my success. Their suffering was my suffering.
Once this shift happened I was able to feel completely and totally happy for other people’s joys even when I wasn’t experiencing them in my own life. And I also felt complete and total compassion for those who were suffering when I wasn’t. When a friend would share good news, I could honestly feel happy for them. The jealousy wasn’t there. It would be silly to feel jealous of yourself right? And that’s how I thought of everyone … as pieces of me. I can’t possibly experience every single thing that life has to offer. I’ll never have grown up in Poland. I’ll never have been a little boy. But out there, other people have, and I can share their experience through my sense of Oneness.
Today I don’t have to say, “Darnit, I wish I was Melissa” because I’ve learned that I am Melissa. Some part of me went to the Grand Canyon on a road trip when I was a kid.
When you feel jealous of other people’s successes you’re just disconnecting from the collective consciousness. Share in their joy instead. And when something bad happens to someone else and you think, “Thank God that wasn’t me,” stop yourself, because it was you. Send compassion and love to those around you who are suffering, as you would want them to do for you.
When you are comfortable with who you are and what you have, you’ll stop being jealous of others’ successes and rewards. I have some friends who are genuinely happy for me when I share good news, and I have other friends who get quiet and can’t even muster an “oh, goodie goodie gum drops for you.” It’s not the news itself that causes this reaction, otherwise I’d get the same reaction from everyone. Invariably, the people who aren’t happy with their lives just can’t seem to be happy for me when something great happens, and the people who are happy with who they are and what they have are always excited for me. Which kind of friends do you have?
More importantly, which type of friend are you?