Making Envy Work for You – Helen Gurley Brown

The life lesson: not only can you make envy work for you — it can improve your life! The successful woman: Helen Gurley Brown – a woman envied by men and women alike.

Here’s what Gurley Brown says about envy:

“Nearly every glamorous, wealthy, successful career woman you might envy now started out as some kind of schlep.”

Few women are born successful, fulfilled, happy, and living the life of their dreams. To make envy work for you (instead of draining your energy and deadening your spirit), remember that the successful woman you envy had to work hard – and overcome criticism, rejection, and failure – to fulfill her dreams and aspirations. Did her success simply fall into her lap via an inheritance, marriage, or sheer stupid luck? Maybe, but don’t forget that she’s facing a hard battle, too. Life is hard for everyone – just in different ways.

The following info about envy comes from the amazing book, 9 Secrets of Women Who Get Everything They Want by Kate White. I read the whole thing in a day – and I’m dying to read it again, because of all practical information and personal insights White offers. She was the editor-in-chief of Redbook when she wrote this (Helen Gurley Brown was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine).

Making Envy Work for You – Helen Gurley Brown

“What I learned from successful women is that rather than suppress or deny envy like the rest of us, they do something with it,” writes White in 9 Secrets of Women Who Get Everything They Want. “Think of envy as a compass of sorts. An envy attack can point you directly to what you want the most.”

Envy can work for you by showing you want you really want out of life – not what other people think you should want, or even what you think you should want. I’ve always envied women who have strong family ties, because I grew up with a single mom and almost no relatives. It’s hard not to let my envy of close-knit families get the better of me – especially as I think about having children of my own – but I’d rather cultivate the relationships I do have than waste time wanting what I’ll never have.

“The big surprise about envy,” says Ann Ulanov, PhD, author of Cinderella and Her Sisters, “is that it really can lead to something good. If you can stop and examine the feeling of wanting what someone else has – which takes a lot of energy – you’ll find that what you’re seeing in the other person’s life is really a good thing. Envy, after all, is admiration gone sour. At the bottom of envy is a lavish, all-out sighting of good qualities and a registering of awe and amazement at them.”

To make envy work for you, remember that envy tells you what you want. Listen to your envy. Use your envy to nourish your passion and excitement at the thought of getting what you want out of life! Focus on motivation, connection, and direction (rather than dejection, bitterness, or pointless jealousy).

Do you envy a successful woman – and how do her achievements make you feel about yourself? Can you turn that energy around into a motivating force? And, if you have any thoughts on the difference between envy and jealousy, I’d love to hear them…

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