This piece was originally published on Medium in September, 2020.
I recently read something that I am likely to botch up here, but I know I have the premise correct, because that I have not been able to stop thinking about. Some wise author whose book I recently listened to (not read-that’s important) said something I found to be extremely profound. Like, potentially life-changing profound.
It’s important to know that I listened to the book and not read it, because this is why I don’t have a more clear explanation. I have nothing to reference other than, in most cases, “Track X” and that’s not super helpful. But I can narrow it down. It was either Brené Brown, Mark Manson, Glennon Doyle or possibly, but not likely, Don Miguel Ruiz. As a bonus to you dear reader, I will add as a critique of audiobooks that looking back to find something is extremely difficult. I may start keeping a notebook nearby. I do sometimes record things into the Notes section on my phone. Most of the time, when something jumps out, I listen again and again. If there’s a better way, I’m all ears!
Such was not the case with JOE. But it probably should have been since I am pretty sure, but definitely not positive that’s not what it is actually called. The concept jumped out. The acronym, not so much. I would love if someone knows the source and the actual acronym to let me know! In my version, JOE stands for Jealous of Everything. This means that if I say “I’m so jealous of Eliza, she has it all!”, I have to take a look at as much of her life as possible. Let’s say Eliza is a divorce attorney. I would not be jealous of that. Let’s say she’s divorced herself and only sees her kids 3 days a week. I also would not be jealous of that. Sure, her house is beautiful, she makes lots of money and has been very successful in her career. But, if she loves her kids and cries at night because she misses them, that’s sad. If she works so much she doesn’t get to enjoy her beautiful home, that’s a shame. If her job causes her stress because she deals with the ugly side of people all day, that’s not ideal. The idea is that if jealousy is an emotion I am willing to take on on behalf of someone else, it’s in my interest to examine the whole picture so I can make a more informed decision about that jealousy and whether or not it’s warranted. Spoiler alert: it never is.
Around the same time, I read this article about the drummer for the Talking Heads, Chris Frantz, where he says “If you knew David Byrne, you would not be jealous of him.”, which made the concept a bit more real to me. I mean, if I can’t be jealous of David Byrne, the genius who wrote the words to the best song ever “This Must Be The Place”, then who can I be jealous of? The answer is NO ONE. Byrne’s creative gifts are undeniable but being in a band with him sounds very yikes-y. So let’s dive into the genius of Frantz’ side project The Tom Tom Club as a palate cleanser. Do it, go ahead, play the song. Dance to it. You’ll thank me later.
So for the last few months, every time I think “I’m so jealous of X.”, I take a second and think of the innumerable pieces of someone’s life that I have no idea about or know are not ideal. And it very often does the trick of stopping me in my tracks. If I can’t be JOE, I need to let it go. That should be a bumper sticker.
Also, so much of what we’re jealous of comes down to choices we make. I might be jealous of someone because they own a Mini Countryman, a car I really want. But, I made a different choice. One that made more sense for a lifestyle Paul and I chose-to be a one car family. So, when that jealousy sneaks in (she’s a slithery bitch), I remind myself of our choice, why we made it and that should the opportunity arise and circumstances change, I can consider a Countryman. Owning our choices is so powerful. (The graphic below is actually a Clubman, but I will always find any excuse to use it, so close enough. 🚙)
Jealousy is so destructive and we often find ourselves jealous of things we can never attain, which is crazy. Social media definitely feeds this. I follow this GORGEOUS woman from Mexico on Instagram with the most beautiful hair and just insanely awesome vibe. She’s beautiful, she’s stylish. I used to be jealous of her straight, long hair. I mean, her hair is perfect, her face is gorgeous. Like, every time I saw one of her pictures, I’d think “Man, I wish…..” and then I started reading her posts, realized her life was no more perfect than anyone else’s, and the jealousy started to slip away. I started to just be able to enjoy, to admire and to nod my head in agreement when she shared her humanity, rather than rolling my eyes (“Oh there she is being all perfect again. 🙄”). And that eye-rolling is so destructive. For me, it’s based in judgement, comparison and this ridiculous idea that if something looks perfect, than it must actually be perfect. I recently realized that if a cake is made of shit, you can put the prettiest and most decorative frosting on it and it will still be a shitcake. (Yup, I came up with that on my own. It’s not very nice, but it’s true. And it doesn’t apply to my beautiful Mexican girl crush. I may still have some stuff to work out. 😒)
So the next time you find the green eyed monster threatening to invade your peace, remember JOE. If you can’t be JOE, let it GO. Here’s an inspirational poster so you don’t forget. You’re welcome. Yes, I made it. Don’t be jealous of my inspirational poster skills, I suck at math, I’m impatient…and my eyebrows grow like an old man’s. 😉