This Is the Best Way to Handle Envy

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There's no getting around envy. You experience it from the time you're very small, and even though you can grow up recognizing the feeling, you can't always fend it off. While we're seemingly always keeping up with the Joneses, we don't always understand envy. It turns out the green-eyed monster has an expiration date.


Psychologists at the University of Chicago have just released a study comparing how we covet someone else's experience before and after it actually takes place. Think of your most annoying coworker going on vacation to Tahiti, or your favorite cousin nabbing prime tickets to a Beyoncé show. That sour, Gollum-y emotion in your stomach is actually stronger before the event than after.

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"Enviable events lose some power over us once those events are in our past," said study coauthor Ed O'Brien in a press release. "There is something of a paradox in our reactions to people who get to have what we want: It stings less if they already have it."


This research may be more useful now than ever before. In a world where social media keeps us in a constant state of FOMO, it can be hard to escape the feeling that everyone else in the world is living better lives than you are. Constantly comparing yourself to the whole world's best, most curated version of itself is more likely to drag you down than inspire. If you can remind yourself that most envy is not only temporary but likely to end on a predictable schedule, it should be easier to just breathe through it and keep on living your own life.