Is Jealousy a Healthy Emotion? 4 Examples of Normal & Positive Jealousy.

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 7.0
Hearts 0.0
Comments 2.3
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.
2
14.2k

jealousy

Jealousy is an emotion that’s so normal, it’s been observed in infants as young as five months old.

I’ve written more than once about how to deal with jealousy—about how to turn it into a more positive experience for all involved—but what about the flip-side of the coin?

What about when jealousy is healthy?

So I’ve come up with a small list to help us remember why we feel certain emotions, even those that aren’t preferable—like jealousy.

1. Jealousy helps us realize what we want so that we can go after it.

One personal example for me of late is the way that I reacted when I saw so many new baby announcements pop up on my Facebook newsfeed.

I knew that we were preparing ourselves for wanting another child, but it truly was the unexpected jealousy that crept into my heart when I saw things like he’s going to be a big brother and we’re excited to announce that so-and-so is going to be a big sister—because I recognized that I wanted this for my own daughter.

And, honestly, this jealous reaction helped me understand myself more deeply—so that I can figure out my own next step in actualizing my most desired life goals.

2. Jealousy can serve as a warning.

Please do read this article on ways to get in touch with negative jealousy in relationships and how to cope and then, having said that, let’s look at when jealousy can help to serve as a warning sign that something is off in our relationships.

If we’re continually feeling jealous toward one person: a lover or a friend, for example, there’s a lack of trust. Now, this lack of trust can absolutely be our own fault and something that’s not deserved on our partner’s or friend’s end at all. Still, jealousy can sometimes be a red flag waving in front of our faces of a situation that doesn’t feel right.

3. Jealousy can make us better partners.

The occasional stirrings of jealousy that creep into a long-term romantic relationship are not always harmful.

When we notice our husband’s attractive after-effects from exercise, for instance, we are possibly inspired to work out more ourselves, or maybe even exercise together, which is both solidifying to the relationship and great for our own health.

More, a tiny bit of infrequent jealousy can encourage us to be attentive to our partner’s needs.

4. Jealousy can propel our achievements.

Admittedly, I’m not the type of person who gets jealous about someone else’s gorgeous house or fancy car. Regardless, those random moments when we see something that we want and don’t have can sometimes be just the fuel we need continue working hard on our own pathways towards achievement and prosperity. Or, it can actually help us do some soul searching and figure out that we might not have that extra bedroom in our home, but we have a pretty darn happy family filling up the rooms we do have.

While jealousy isn’t always a comfortable or welcome emotion, it is a natural one and one that shouldn’t be ignored. (Because ignoring our feelings never helps.)

So when we contemplate these moments in our lives when a typically “bad” emotion can actually be a “good” one, we also become more aware of when our emotions aren’t productive, either for us or for the people we love.

And perhaps the most positive aspect of an emotion such as jealousy is that it offers an awkward enough sensation to  encourage us to dig a little deeper and learn more about ourselves and the world around us—which, in my book, is always welcome.

“Jealous, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.” ~ Ambrose Bierce

Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: elephant journal archives

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 7.0
Hearts 0.0
Comments 2.3
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.
2
14.2k

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

anonymous Feb 25, 2014 12:03pm

Great piece!

I think it’s important to remember that the things that are causing feelings of jealousy (Facebook, Instagram) are inflated versions of people’s lives. So many people project amplified versions of their lives through social media, and rather than seeing these projections as just one piece of their lives, we start to think that their lives are perfect, and ours are not.

As much as I don't wish any harm to our social media friends, we have to remember that they really are only posting the good stuff, and there is a lot of bad stuff that gets hidden. This realization at least helps me remember that I do have a pretty perfect life – at least 90% of the time. And comparing myself to the false sense of perfection conveyed in other people's pictures is only going to cause me to focus on the 10% that’s missing in my own life.

Finally, recognizing this makes me conscious of the kind of image I am projecting on the world. I don't want to make anyone feel bad about their lives with any of my posts, whether it's a healthy marathon photo or vacation to an exotic yoga retreat.
xo

anonymous Feb 23, 2014 7:39pm

Jealousy is a secondary emotion caused by fear and judgment. Accepting that jealousy occurs, learning where the fear is coming from, and acting instead of reacting can make it a positive experience but acting out of jealousy instead of love is problematic in interpersonal relationships.

Read The Best Articles of March
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.
CLICK TO SEE WHO WON

Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She’s also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.