It’s not envy-Healthy envy: admiring people who help us grow

It's not envy - Healthy envy admiring people who help us grow

Although the concept of envy carries very negative connotations, if we can invert it and focus on the idea of ​​healthy admiration, we can benefit from everything we learn from our reference people. Having role models to follow opens up a world of possibilities for us.

It's not envy - Healthy envy admiring people who help us grow

In many religions and mythologies, envy appears as one of the most harmful and dangerous human emotions. Envy was what sentenced Abel to die, and it is no coincidence that Envy is the Roman goddess of vengeance and jealousy. This word comes from the Latin in-videre (to look at something), so it is not surprising that it is often said that someone is “blind with envy” when they have no eyes for anything other than what they want from the other.

From psychology, envy is considered as the almost sick desire to possess what others have. When we succumb to it, we enter a vicious circle in which, without trying to understand the reasons why the other person enjoys what we long for, or without making any personal effort to achieve what they have achieved, we envy them.

This facet of envy is not constructive, it blinds us, prevents us from moving forward, damages us and consumes us.

However, we can turn the tables of our envy and focus on a positive version of this “looking at another”, not wishing for what the other person possesses in an unhealthy way, but admiring (ad-looking) their achievements and making use of your example to improve.

Admiration does not seek to take away from the subject what he possesses, as does envy, but rather awakens a healthy desire to achieve, through our own means, the same achievements as the other person. A healthy model, whom we admire on its own merits, opens the field of vision for us to set goals that perhaps otherwise would not have occurred to us. Having this type of reference pushes us to offer the best of ourselves, to go much further.


In the girls and boys who admire their favorite athlete, we can see a clear example of the importance of having a healthy model as an impulse to improve. In this case, the little ones are not envying their idol in the negative sense and do not wish him any harm, but use him as inspiration for their hobby. It is sure that, thanks to this admiration they feel, they can reach a much higher level in their skills.

It is just as healthy for adults to have positive role models to look up to. Whether in our professions or in our hobbies, surely, we can find people who have previously traveled the path we have started and can serve as a stimulus to improve and achieve our goals.

Contrary to what happens with envy, which blocks us and belittles us, being inspired by someone pushes us to grow and give the best of ourselves.

In addition, the benefits of this personal improvement extend beyond us, and can also serve as an inspiration to many others. Consider, for example, the confessed admiration that Freddie Mercury felt for Montserrat Caballé and the fantastic work they did together turning their song Barcelona into a globally recognized anthem for this city.

Another example of healthy and enriching admiration is the one that occurred in the so-called Scully Effect, according to which the protagonist of the 90s series The X-Files, Dana Scully, served as an example to a whole generation of women scientists. Thousands of teenagers around the world were inspired by the professionalism, intelligence and personality of this character, and decided to pursue studies related to biology or engineering. According to a 2018 study, 63% of women working in science today were inspired by Scully.

These girls may not have had the proper encouragement at home or in their schools to choose a branch of science, but thanks to Scully’s example they found the confidence to study mostly male-occupied careers.

Knowing cases of healthy admiration that have served as a model for many people is very encouraging, since joy for the good of others is very rare today. We need to stop looking enviously at each other and focus on what we can learn from each other. If we look for healthy role models to look up to and strive to offer the best of ourselves, in all likelihood our work will also inspire many people and our society can move forward more peacefully and harmoniously.


If you don’t want envy to consume your energy and you want to achieve all the benefits of healthy admiration, you can put these ideas into practice:

  1. Find your models. Regardless of your hobbies or the profession to which you dedicate yourself, you can always look for models that can serve as a reference. You do not have to focus on a single person, they can be several, in different areas or, they can even be teams or work groups that you admire. Look for their works and their examples, research their biographies for inspiration.
  2. Learn from the best. What do you like about that person? What do you admire about her? Think about what you can learn from her work or her attitude and how she would react to possible difficulties you may run into. You will surely find some inspiring idea that helps you. Find a way to put it into practice.
  3. Bring your creativity. When we talk about inspiring someone, we are not talking about copying, but using it as an example and as a starting point to create your own path. You have your background, your own experiences and surely you have a lot to contribute. Do not stay in the known: explore new paths, find your own solutions, and develop your ideas.
  4. You are also an example. If you have children, nephews, or work with children, think that you are one of the most admired people in the world. Your example serves as a model. Remember that they learn much more from how you act than from what you say. Observe yourself and decide what footprint you want to leave on them.


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