2 Ways That Envy Can Supercharge Your Personal Growth

Envy Isn’t Always A Bad Thing

Jon Tesser
3 min readMay 31, 2022
Source: iStockPhoto

Envy is universally thought of as a negative thing that we must do away with at all costs. It’s an uncomfortable feeling that brings shame to us. We ask ourselves “why do I feel this way” while simultaneously beating ourselves up for these feelings.

But uncomfortable feelings, however bad they feel at the time, are necessary if we want to grow personally. And feeling envious towards someone is a great way to figure out how we need to nourish ourselves and provide that personal development pick-me-up.

Don’t believe me? Well, hopefully by the end of this article you will! I’m going to list out two ways that you can use envious feelings to grow right now.

Realize What You Lack — And Work On It

I’ve been quite vocal about how I hate the thirst trap photos that get gobs of engagement on LinkedIn. If you’re not aware of what a “thirst trap photo” is, it’s typically a young woman in full make-up sharing a selfie or showing off her body in some way that attracts male sexual attention. For a long time, these photos stayed on Instagram, but have recently become quite popular on LinkedIn.

I’ll spare my moralizing on why this is annoying (and can save that for another post) but I’m jealous of these women and their engagement based on their appearance. It might seem odd that a 43 year old man would be jealous of a young woman’s looks. But they remind me what I believe I lack, which is Good Looks and engagement on LinkedIn.

I’ve never been happy about my appearance and have always been envious of the pretty people, who seem to skate through life with ease. When LinkedIn popularity was based purely on text posts, I didn’t have to confront my jealousy of these folks. But now they’re front and center, getting tons of engagement based on their appearance, which is something I can’t do.

If I dig beneath the surface here for a moment, my envy has nothing to do with them and everything to do with how I believe I’m unattractive. Knowing this, I can work on self love to accept myself the way I am and work on making myself more attractive. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll feel confident enough to post my own thirst traps!

Secondly, I’m envious of their engagement, which is way higher than mine despite the fact that they have fewer followers. In my zero sum mind, their gain is at my expense. Clearly, this means I care a lot about my LinkedIn engagement and wish my content did better.

Interestingly, my way of dealing with this envy was to stop posting LinkedIn-exclusive content entirely. I made the decision that it isn’t healthy for me to be so attached to an arbitrary number for my happiness, and so I distanced myself from the network.

So, to summarize, you can use your envious feelings of someone to explore what you lack, and make a game plan to deal with that Lacking Thing.

Spur You To Action

When I go out for a walk, I always notice the runners. They seem so happy and they’re in great shape. And yeah, you guessed it, I don’t feel the same way.

But seeing them, and being envious of them, gives me something to aim for. Partly due to my envy of these seemingly well put together individuals, I’ve been on my own fitness quest to feel happier and healthier.

Perhaps you feel envious of an entrepreneur who’s killing it, or an athlete that does better than you. Instead of letting that envy get you down, use that competitive spirit to get better at the thing you think they’re better at. By using it as personal motivation, you can achieve goals you never thought you’d be able to achieve.

So there you have it — two ways to use envy to inspire you to be a better person. So the next time you feel like throwing your envy in the trash can, mold it into personal development clay to make yourself a better person.



Jon Tesser

I use data to understand people. I also help early career professionals find career happiness.