How to deal with envy?

A week before 20160724, I thought that I would attend more birthdays of Honey Panda’s friend’s son [1] than Little Prince’s birthdays, due to work restriction. Honestly, I felt sad and envious, but we can always convert negative emotions into positive forces. In contrast, Honey Panda has been around for all Little Prince’s birthdays hitherto.

On 20180129, I felt a slight envy reading the company news that a colleague (who celebrated his birthday this month and is only few months older than me) with a stepdaughter, won one of the external grant for his project. I purposely did not apply for this grant in autumn 2017, as I wanted to focus on caring for Little Prince and deliver my basic responsibilities, instead of adding more things to my plate.

In the evening of 20180503, I called an acquaintance who lives in St Regis with his wife; he worked in a company that Honey Panda aspired to work for. I asked them if I could visit there but received a lukewarm response, but the determined happygreenpanda strived for another strategy to ensure that we enjoyed a birdview from St Regis. Then, I saw some instagram visuals related to St Regis, and felt a sense of envy as I want to bring my loved ones to enjoy the luxury of life, yet without costing a big hole in my pocket. Since I was very tired, I tried to have an evening nap from ~ 7.30pm of 20180503 (Thursday), counting our blessings. For example, in the early April 2018, Little Prince has enjoyed the swimming pools at Sheraton (thanks to an arbitrage) and Novotel. Normally, Little Prince would wake me up for his dinner. However, I was waken up by the adzan prayer on 20180504 (Friday) at around 4.20 am. Little Prince skipped his dinner as he slept from ~ 5pm plus to ~5am plus. Then, at ~5.30am of 20180504, I started working. Am I a workaholic like Honey Panda, who loves to work? For work that we love, it appears as a serious play to us.

On 20180508, I read about the success story of a junior delivering her 2nd son through VBAC by the obstetrician who also delivered the only son of Honey Panda’s good friend. However, Honey Panda’s good friend’s son suffered from a mild stroke that required him to go for several physiotherapies; that’s why I finally listened to the wish of my obstetrician and Honey Panda, to have another C-section, for the safety of Little Princess. Although the medical fee is expensive in the birth country of Little Princess, thankfully both Honey Panda’s good friend and wife are earning substantially and they recently bought a landed property with a swimming pool on the rooftop.

On 20181104, Little Prince asked me what the smallest country in Africa is. After googling, we found out that Seychelles is the smallest African country and if we consider only the continental mainland of Africa, Gambia is the smallest country. Then, I remembered a friend who is an alumna of Tsinghua University, went to Seychelles with her family in the Xmas 2013. She was generous to share her photos that allowed Little Prince and I learned more about Seychelles. We saw the swimming trunk of her son that she kindly gave to Little Prince! Since tonight, he wanted to visit Seychelles to see Aldabra giant tortoises and the Coco De Mer (Lodoicea/double coconut/sea coconut) that looks like a butt! We will wait until Little Princess turns 6 years old and both of them can swim well before we visit Seychelles. We will also remember to bring insect repellents.

Then, we also saw her other Facebook albums that documented her travels. After overcoming an initial surge of envy, I thought of using these albums as learning materials for Little Prince, who remembered the destinations where my friend’s son has visited, from Switzerland to Singapore, and the Machu Picchu that Little Prince wanted to visit very much. We also learned about Jordan and Little Prince also wanted to ride on a donkey at Petra but with a helmet. While he is a risk taker (he wants to try many things and loves to perform on stages), he is also a calculated risk taker who anticipates potential dangers. Well done!

According to Alain de Botton, “The closer two people are, in age, in background, in the process of identification, the more there is a danger of envy, which is incidentally why none of you should ever go to a school reunion, because there is no stronger reference point than people one was at school with.”

Measuring the self against others is a modus operandi of the human mind. Comparison can be positive or negative. The achievements of others can motivate us to improve ourselves and our own lives. Skills and possessions vary, some people experience a boost of self-esteem when they feel that they have more and/or better skills and possession than others. However, comparison that results in perpetual feeling of inferiority is harmful.

“The next time you feel tempted to be jealous of others, remember that they have their own challenges that may be even more difficult than yours. ”

In summer 2016, I brainstormed on some constructive strategies to deal with envy [2]:

  1. Be humble to minimize arousing an envy feeling of our friends, clients, colleagues, or bosses.
  2. Believe that The Universe (God) has a good plan for each of us, while accepting the fact that the grass will always be greener. Everyone is responsible for designing and directing his/her unique life story [3]. Be happy for the good fortune of another (mudita) [4].
  3. Cherish + use what we have [5]. Count our blessings [6].
  4. Give our talent, time and treasure [7] to nurture kindness and generosity.
  5. Do what we can. Start where we are. Use the feeling of envy as a positive driving force to better ourselves than our previous selves.
  6. Live a minimalist lifestyle. Simplify, declutter and avoid people who value things that discourage gratitude. Do media diet from advertisements, instagram, and facebook [8].

[1] His friend went with us to Turkey, and our families visited Bali in Summer 2015. He was generous to give us gifts from his family trip to Korea in Summer 2016. See also Asia2016/20160724_envy.txt for an inspiration for #pandaMnemonic LACY learn + adapt + create + yield (contribute)

[2] #pandaMnemonic HUG-GAS: Humble + Unique Life + Gratitude + Give + Act + Simplify that I thought of on 20160810.

[3] In summer 2016, I taught Little Prince to repeat affirmations of “I live everyday happily. I create my own (life) story.” Sometimes later, while Little Prince was hospitalized for the first time, wearing the uncomfortable breathing tube, he could still utter “I live everyday happily” on 20160808. Quoting Angela Schwindt, “while we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”

[4] Internalize the success of others; externalize our failures and challenges. For example, I hope that my younger brother and sister will live better lives (more success, more wealth) than me, in contrast to sibling rivalry present in some families.

[5] On 20160723 night, when Little Prince met his elder cousins who ride on their parents’ car, Little Prince proudly asked, “do you know which bus goes to Ikea?” It seems that Little Prince enjoyed riding relatively cheaper buses in a country where owning a car (according to #frugalPanda Honey Panda) will prevent one from saving, unless one is among the crème de la crème earners, who is earning the top 20% of the top 20% (iterative Pareto’s law). See also Asia2016/20160723_itinerary.txt

[6] To create a gratitude list, use a spreadsheet and visual diary e.g. 20160808_153932_gratitude.jpg

[7] #pandaMnemonic: the gift of 3Ts = talent + time + treasure (money, things, blood, breastmilk)

[8] To benefit from social media, one must be aware that people often share only good or successful stories (these may create envy in the viewers who do not realize that there are tonnes of struggles and pains behind the stories).  See also grep “20161019 lesson” ref2016*/


  1. […] to travel and explore the world, the recipients may think that I’m boastful or end up feeling envious or […]


  2. […] that Honey Panda and I, who started from relatively poor family in the past, ended up feeling jealous. We compared ourselves to others, especially those who had better starts than us (e.g. people from […]


  3. […] Greedy people like Ali Baba’s older brother, Cassim, will surely want more than what they can handle and end up being destroyed. In Cassim’s case, he was murdered by the robbers who caught him trying to steal their treasures. Therefore, we must learn how to deal with envy. […]


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