Friendship Envy and Honesty

Have you ever been envious of a friend?

It’s Ok if you have: I think there are times we see what someone else has, and we do get a little green at the thought of it. Maybe your friend has a great job, or a wonderful new relationship, or is pregnant- and you might really want these things, but at the present time it just isn’t there for you. Perhaps it makes it difficult to spend time with this friend, or maybe even be happy for them.

These are honest emotions, and you shouldn’t berate yourself for feeling them.

But…

Maybe you should have an open discussion with your friend about how you are feeling.

In Conversations on Love by Nathasha Lunn:

At times, that ongoing conversation might include sharing painful thing. Saying I’m proud you are achieving so much in your career, but sometimes that reminds me I’m struggling with mine…Because Susie made me realize that my envy was not only rooted in wanting what others had. Really it grew from a fear of being left behind , and of loneliness.

When you are envious of a friend, what is it really about? Is it really wanting their great job, or is it because you just aren’t in a good place at the moment and you feel scared and alone and afraid?

FYI- we all feel scared and alone and afraid sometimes. Really- we do. It might not look like that on social media, but there isn’t a person out there who hasn’t had moments of doubt and insecurity. But that’s why you need to talk to your friends about how you are feeling. They are your friends for a reason: share what you are going through. Chances are they will be scared of something too, just maybe not the same thing as you are.

Be honest with your friends about how you are feeling. Talk to them. Communicate. Having emotions is a part of being human- you just need to learn how to deal with them in a positive and healthy way.

Adding the Spice

I’ve been on a rather circuitous route towards mindfulness. I’m actively trying to become more mindful, more present in the journey, but sometimes life manages to sneak in and I have to get all pragmatic. But yet, I try.

One mindfulness exercise that I have come across is about making daily activities more mindful- to actually find peace, and daresay enjoyment out of something that is quite banal.

Hmmm

When I am doing household stuff, I tend to have on music or a TV show in the background. This is my way of making things better, but singing along to the Doobies or watching a house go from fixer to fabulous isn’t exactly being mindful…

So how do you make the tiresome details of your life more mindful?

Here’s what I tried:

I started with cooking: I already like cooking, so you would think it would be easy to throw in some mindful moments. However, stopping to smell the aromas of cooking went from being a pleasant, heady experience to an moment that felt sort of false- I ended up looking like Pepe Le Pew holding his nose aloft and being haughty…

Fail

I tried it when changing the litter. Yeah…there is nothing mindful about dumping litter from the box to the waiting bag in the garbage. As much as I tried, I could not focus on making my cat’s environment better: I could only focus on getting the task done as quickly as possible.

Fail

Laundry? From wheeling my cart down the hall, waiting for the elevator, hoping the big machine is free and in working order- this was not a mindful moment. This was a bit of wishing, hoping and not quite dreaming but a whole lot of wait and see…

Fail

Cleaning the bathroom? Seriously- can wiping under the rim of the toilet ever be a joyful experience?

Fail

Mopping?

Fail

Dusting

Sneezy fail

You get the idea. Try as I might I can’t find the moment of solace in doing everyday household chores. I can’t focus on thinking that the meal I make will nourish my family or the shelf I dust will make the surface sparkle. I live in NYC- there’s dust ten seconds after I’ve dusted. I don’t even get a moment to savor the dust free surface… I can’t help but think that trying to feel mindful about the day to day is really what a fool believes…

While I can try to be more mindful of my moments, I’m going to have to choose which moments to savor, and which moments to endure. I don’t think I’m cut out to be in the moment every moment.

Envy

Raise your hand if you have ever envied someone?

For the record, my hand is totally up in the air.

According to Oxford Languages, the definition of envy is:

A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, or luck and desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else

So yes, I have been envious of people carrying Hermes bags, or going on fantastic trips. However, while I might have a moment of wishing I were that person, I snap back into myself pretty quickly and realize that my life is pretty good, and really, I have everything that I want.

Of course, sometimes I see something that someone else has, and I really want it, but instead of being envious, I just figure out what I need to do to have whatever it is that I desire. I set a goal, make a plan, and just do it.

Someone I know won a writing contest- My thoughts were as follows:

  1. How awesome for the person
  2. I would love to win a writing contest
  3. I can’t win something I never enter
  4. I actually have to have a finished piece to enter into a contest
  5. Let me finish something and send it off

I then finished and sent something off. I did not win, but I somehow feel that I did indeed win by just putting the piece out there. I now regularly work on pieces to submit, and one day I will hopefully win a contest.

What is a better use of my energy: envying something good that happened to someone else, or doing something that would make me more fulfilled?

Our talking points for today are:

  1. How do you define envy?
  2. What is something you’ve envied about another?
  3. Is envy a “normal” emotion that most people feel?
  4. How easy is it to be consumed by envy?
  5. What is the difference between envy and jealousy?

Gratitude and Mindfulness: 5/28/22

I take Betty when I run many of my errands. I was in search of an organizing thingie, and had struck out at Container Store and Bed Bath and Beyond. My next stop was Muji, which is a store with an odd assortment of good, including clothes and organizing products. (it also has very reasonable prices, so that’s a big plus…)

So Betty and I are in the store, and there’s a mannequin. Betty went up to the mannequin looking for to be played with… (I never claimed my pets are smart) I said:

“Come on. It’s not a real person.”

To which other shoppers started laughing.

(OK- I may have said “It’s not a real person, dumbass”)

I am grateful that I can bring joy to other people with my dog and my antics.


My mindfulness/journal prompt for this week is HOPE

Hope is used in the books I’m reading in the following ways:

  1. The sweeping minor chords, the pining lift into hope, into desperation, into joy, catapulting into that quick, fast, danceable celebration of light and wind across the water- it was all there. Brendan Slocumb
  2. I have an affection for the road yet (though it is not so pleasant a road as it was then), formed in the impressibility of untried youth and hope. Charles Dickens
  3. If we surrender to the idea that we can’t and needn’t control everything, our expectation is significantly reduced, leading to less disappointment if things don’t work out as we had hoped. Kate Peers
  4. Getting married is an act of hope and optimism- an affirmation of life. Caroline Kennedy
  5. The sheen of spring’s hopeful freshness blanketed all- the bags, the sidewalks, our lives. Qian Julie Wang
  6. When you tackle even a single drawer, you’ll experience success, boost your confidence, and start to feel hopeful, even excited, about tackling the rest of your home. Shira Gill

What I am going to think about as journaling:

  1. When did hope become so narcissistic? Always? It’s rife with narcissism in Dickens
  2. I am a big believer in hope- I think that hope is essential to resilience and yet, when I read how hope is used in books, I can’t help but feel demoralized…
  3. Is hope about trivial things going your way, or is it about the big things?
  4. To feel hopeless is the worst feeling in the world- how do we make people feel less hopeless
  5. This has been a lousy week for both my friends and for the world- is hope enough? When does hope become an action word
  6. One of the quotes that I almost used was something along the lines of, don’t hope you can- believe you can. What’s the difference between hoping something and believing something?
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
BY E. E. CUMMINGS

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Source: Complete Poems: 1904-1962 (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1991)

Gratitude and Mindfulness

One of my friends had a tough week. There’s very little that’s worse than someone you care about having troubles, and there being nothing you can do to ease their pain, whether it be mental, physical or emotional. It’s hard to be grateful when you know someone is hurting.

But I am grateful for my friends, and that we can talk to one another. I’m grateful to know that there are ears willing to listen to me when I am down, and that others trust me enough to talk to me.


My mindfulness/journaling word for the week is Authenticity.

It’s used in the books I’m reading in the following sentences:

  1. Polly had given Laura a ride to the store, but rater than wait for SnaggleBuggle to extricate himself from an argument with Clare about brand authenticity, Laura had decided to walk home. Abbi Waxman
  2. That’s all right: boredom is an authentic emotion just like any other, and you’re allowed to feel it. Kate Peers
  3. In a world where language is too often used to manipulate, poems can help us find our authentic voice. Caroline Kennedy
  4. Memory is a fickle thing, but other than names and certain identifying details- which I have changed out of respect for others’ privacy- I have endeavored to document my family’s undocumented years as authentically and intimately as possible. Qian Julie Wang
  5. Make sure to carve out some time and space so you can tap into your deepest, most authentic desires. Shira Gill

How I’m going to think about authenticity this week:

  1. Do we have trouble being authentic?
  2. Do we want to be authentic, or is this a word we throw around because we are struggling to find out who we are?
  3. What does authentic really mean in our day to day lives?
  4. Has authenticity become a marketing term? When we think authentic do we think brand?
  5. Am I authentic?
  6. Are we afraid to be authentic?
  7. Quote 3- is poetry more authentic than prose?
  8. The word authentic was used the most times in a home organization book- in our homes do we try to show who we want to be instead of who we are?
The Smaller Orchid by Amy Clampitt

Love is a climate
small things find safe
to grow in- not
(though I once supposed so)
the demanding cattleya
du cote de chez Swann,
glamour among the faubourgs,
hothouse overpowerings, blisses
and cruelties at teatime, but this
next-to-unidentifiable wildling,
hardly more than a
sprout, I’ve found
flourishing in the hollows
of a granite seashore —
a cheerful tousle, little,
white, down-to-earth orchid
declaring its authenticity,
if you hug the ground
close enough, in a powerful
outdoorsy-domestic
whiff of vanilla.

Poem Attribution © Amy Clampitt, The Smaller Orchid





Value v Time

I ride public transit. In order to ride, I need to pay. Though we’ve recently adopted the OMNY system, which allows us to swipe a credit card or an Apple Pay tap, until very recently we had to rely on Metrocards- fare cards that needed to be refilled at the station.

When you need to refill your Metrocard, you go to a machine, insert your card, and you’re given two options:

  1. Add Value
  2. Add Time

Add value or add time.

I had never really thought about the impact of those words until recently, when I read the book Smile The Story of a Face by Sarah Ruhl. The author became afflicted with Bell’s Palsy after giving birth to twins, and the book is her memoir about dealing with the effects of BP. There is a section where Ruhl talks about refilling her metrocard and facing the options of adding value or adding time…

I have always been confused by these two options, which never fail to glimmer with existential meaning: Do I prefer Value or Time? But isn’t time value? Could I not have them both? A subway car often came by while I contemplated this question: value or time, time or value… Sarah Ruhl

When I read this section, my first thought was: How have I never overthought that as I refilled my metrocard. Maybe I have to turn in my “Biggest Overthinker in the World” badge, because for twenty years, I never had an existential crisis at the machine while opting between value and time… I just always added value and scurried off to the turnstyles…

I never considered adding time- it was always value for me…

I guess I can overthink that statement for a bit…

In my life I guess I do attempt to lead a full life. I guess I would rather have five great years than ten average ones… I mean, I’d probably prefer ten great years…but what if that’s not an option?

What if it’s either/or? What if it’s value or time but not both?

I think I’m always choosing value…

What would you choose: add value or add time?

Simple and Meaningful

Everything we do as human beings is precious. If we are to find meaning in what we do, we must first become our own protagonist in the work. You have the leading role in your work. If you approach work with this attitude, all work becomes meaningful and invaluable. Shunmyo Masuno- The Art of Simple Living

Do you consider everything you do to be meaningful and valuable?

Are you the protagonist in your life?

I would like to think that I give my all no matter what I am doing, but I freely admit that I only give about 50% when it comes to cleaning my bathroom. I know that my bathroom needs to be clean, but I figure that “clean enough” is good enough for me- But for the most part, I do think that giving 100% on each task I perform, no matter how small, really does add to my overall enjoyment of life.

Effort matters.

If you go into something, I think you should give it your all. When my daughter was growing up, I would let her try out anything that appealed to her. The caveat was, once she signed up for something, she had to treat that activity as it were precious. She wanted to play T-ball: that meant she went to every game and every practice. No excuses. I told her that she was part of a team, and that members of a team rely on one another- that by signing up for t-ball she made a commitment to 14 other kids and 3 coaches that she would be physically and mentally present. She needed to listen to coaches and give her 100% every time she engaged in T-ball. She needed to make sure her uniform was ready, and she had to bring all the appropriate gear- she was responsible from the age of four for getting herself prepared. Her learning how important it was to take responsibility and give her all has served her well in life.

How you handle the big and small of you life matters.

Your mental attitude matters.

There is meaning in even the most trivial matters if we allow our minds to think that way.

For today:

Are you the protagonist in your own life?

Do you find the value in the things that you do?

Are there things that you think don’t matter?

Discuss:

Gratitude and Such: 4/30/22

My daughter is studying abroad for three weeks this summer. This has screwed her up as to trying to find a summer internship because companies want her to start on day X, and she’s unable to start until day Y. Yesterday she got offered a position that is flexible as to when she can start. Huzzah

I am grateful that she was able to obtain a position that she is interested in, and able to start when she needs to.


If you need some prompts for mindfulness or journaling:

detoxify

Take a bigger view

The only thing that we know is that we know nothing- and that is the highest flight of human wisdom. Leo Tolstoy

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while. Gretchen Rubin

Self Helping

I am a sucker for a good self help book.

OK- I am a sucker for a good book in general, but I can’t help but gravitate towards book that cheerlead. I like a full on, pompoms and pyramid building Go Team experience.

Why do I like these books? I have no idea. I am not the type of person who leads the group in the school fight song…I tend to be the person in the back making sarcastic comments about the proceedings. So what is my addiction to happy go lucky self help?

Do I secretly want to be Queen of the Pep Squad?

or

Do I often see so much mediocre in my day to day, that I need to pick up my spirits, and a book that screams out BE AWESOME is just the ticket I need to get out of depressionville and into happyland?

I guess it doesn’t really matter WHY- I guess it just matters that when I read one of these books I automatically feel better. It’s a relatively harmless way to treat myself. The cost is a book…the side effects are a dash of positivity and perhaps a slightly different outlook. Is there a downside to my odd self help addiction? Not one that I know of. We all know I’m never going to veer towards toxic positivity…so I think I can figure out how to balance things out.

Now- I know I can be negative sometimes. And I can be mean in my head (or in your face if you irk me enough) but I think my scales don’t tip too much to one side or another. Emphasis on think- I know I can be, let’s just say passionate, about things, and I can tend to talkreallyfast and/or GET REALLY LOUD… But I also recover quickly. My Husband was always amazed when my daughter and I would be yelling at one another, and five minutes later we were hugging and best friends… Maybe that’s my superpower- recover quickly from bad to maybe not necessarily good, but at least neutral…

However you look at it, I like the way self help books make me feel. They give me a practical way of looking on the bright side, or at least the not so dark side. The practical is the part that works for me: these books break things down into manageable steps- they give me the guide on how to see things in a different light. They teach me how to be a little more of whatever it is I’m looking for at the present moment. They don’t TELL me what to do- they SHOW me how to do it.

How do you feel about self help books?

Yes?

No?

Maybe?

Never tried?

Tell me anything about self help:

When It’s Easy

Did you ever have a week when everything went your way? The weather was as you needed it to be, the errands that you had the run were done seamlessly, problems you had managed to find easy solutions. How did that magical week make you feel? Were you kinder or happier because things went your way?

Now imagine a week where absolutely nothing goes right: pet is sick, car got a flat, boss didn’t like the work you did on a project that you worked on for months…How does that make you feel? Were you kinder or happier that week?

Is it easier to be happier, kinder, whatever word you want to use, if things are going your way?

I’ve never done an analysis on this, but I would take a guess and say that if things are generally going well in your life, it’s easier to be a more pleasant person.

Which then begs the question:

If things are not going well in your life, how do you get through the day to day without being a rotten person to be around?

What’s the secret formula to being a kind, generous, happy (whatever) person when the chips are decidedly down?

Resiliance?

Faith?

Positivity?

Self confidence?

Something I haven’t thought of because I’m not that good at this?

What do you think is the secret sauce that keeps people on an even keel when they are going through a rough patch?

And to spice things up a bit…

Is it acceptable for someone to be a tad of a downer or mean or cranky if they are going through a bad patch?

Discuss: