The Secret to Overcoming Envy and Jealousy

“When we see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived out our own.” ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

I got The War of Art for Christmas and have been devouring it. I had heard of it every now and then. Most recently last June when I met with friend and colleague Brandon McCormick in his office at “The Manor.” We were talking about filmmaking and inspiration and the book came up. He emphatically encouraged me to get it THAT day and start reading it. Well, six months later I finally got it. The beautiful irony of this story is that the whole book is about the evil of Resistance (that thing which keeps artists from doing what they were meant to do) and how to overcome it.

As I read it I’ll make notes of some favorite quotes and blog about them. Today it’s about criticism, envy, and jealousy. A great way to start off 2011. It’s the quote that opens this blog post. Pressfield also writes that “individuals who have realized their own lives almost never criticize others.” A very profound statement.

In the photography and filmmaking worlds I see a lot of jealousy and criticism. People looking to tear down others who have been successful perhaps in areas where they have not. Filmmakers criticizing Philip Bloom about his “portrait” filmmaking style. Photographers criticizing Jasmine Star because she’s only been in the business three years yet was named a Top 10 wedding photog and has almost 28,000 fans of her Facebook page. RED filmmakers belittling the success of DSLR filmmakers. I could go on and on.

And to be honest, I do the same thing. Maybe I’m not vocal about it, but deep down inside there’s that voice in me that puts other people’s work down and I know it comes from this place of jealousy and envy. I get it. It’s human nature. But how to over come it.?


Last summer I took a sabbatical from social media. A significant reason was this problem. Feeling unsuccessful and jealous about not being where my colleagues were. Another irony is that who knows how many people may feel that way about me. The truth is, you can always find someone more popular and more successful than you.

So I stopped to get perspective on life and success. I realized that the plan God has for me will not be won or lost on how many Twitter followers I have or how many people read my blog posts. My duty is to pursue that calling with all my passion.

But I also came to the conclusion that one way to stop the insanity and evils of envy, is to proactively praise others. To some extent I’ve always tried to do that, but I plan to be more purposeful about it. Whether it’s blogging about a fellow filmmakers About page, praising another filmmakers storytelling prowess, praising another filmmaker’s color grading skills, or displaying other filmmakers’ work on my blog. As I continue to pursue my own calling as a filmmaker, along the way I’ll praise others. It’s a lot like giving money. The more of it you give away, the less of a hold it has on you. Likewise, the more you give praise to others, the easier it is for you to have a better perspective about your own success.

2011 will be a great year for me. Not because I plan to create amazing films (which I do plan to do). Not because I will make a fortune (which I’m sure I most certainly will not.) It will be a great year because I’ve already come to the realization that I’m living a dream. And I plan to do more of it this year. And I will enjoy it more because along the way, I will sincerely lift and hold up artists who inspire me.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride. But if you don’t, I’ll still sleep peaceful at night.

9 thoughts on “The Secret to Overcoming Envy and Jealousy

  1. Great post for the start of a new year. As someone who also struggles with the green eyed monster envy, I appreciate your honesty. It is sad that we sometimes get so focused on getting noticed that we miss all of the opportunities before us. We all have something to say whether it is a big splash or not really doesn’t matter. Cheers! God bless you in the new year!!!

    1. Pete. I like your point about all of us having something to say. Very true. Behind every stranger you see on the street is a story. Something we can learn from. YOU are that stranger to someone else. Share your stories, your thoughts, and your ideas with others, and you will find an audience. It may not be a Philip Bloom or Jasmine Star sized audience, but even if you change the life of just ONE person, that is powerful.

  2. Ron, you hit a nerve with me on this point. I was surprised when you took your social media sabbatical. But then I was even more surprised when shortly afterwards I totally withdrew from all social media platforms. I was weary of the time it was taking, the increasing demands of so-called fans, and the at-a-boys grew tiresome. Jealousy? Yeah, I’m sure there’s a bit of that, too. 🙂 But I still hang out on a few blogs of people I respect. Oh, that includes this one, too 🙂

  3. Speaking of jealousy… kinda like the teeny sting I feel that you didn’t include our interview on Digital Convergence on your about page along with the others 🙂

  4. I’m jelous, you’ve got more Facebook friends then I do, but I know my fb friends are smarter and richer, etc, etc. Lady Gaga had 536 million views for bad Romance Youtube video and I only got none, but If I post some I’m sure I’ll get more views then you…
    Jelousy is like when I was a kid and they said “my father can beat up your father because…”.

    Along with “Anger, Procrastinating, Fear” are some of the “NEGATIVE” emotions, that if dwelled upon, don’t help us. It’s just a matter of time, that effort will meet opportunity and create more success. (A Roosevelt quote) That is if you use your time in the best way you can. Blair Witch Project was done with less equipment then most of us have.

  5. Thank you Ron for your beautifully said blog. As an artist I have always enjoyed other peoples art and believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What I love in art may not be what you love in art. The world is big enough for all to enjoy. As an artist I have no competition, for you either love my work and just have to have it in your home or you don’t. I love the quote by Steven….“individuals who have realized their own lives almost never criticize others.” When I read it my eyes filled with a knowingness. Thank you for your reminder to praise.
    Bless you in your work and may 2011 be the year that you most cerianly make a fortune. Colleen

    1. Thank you for your kind words Colleen. Your revelation about people either loving your work or not reminds me of one I had back in August of ’09. It was my “Comparison Kills Creativity Campaign” I learned that the work I do does not have to look like somebody else’s, and that there are people out there who will love it, and some who may not. So be it. ( )

      Thanks for sharing your heart with us.

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