1. How much money someone else has.
Let’s talk about life here for a second. Spoiler alert: tons of people are going to have more money than you. They are going to have distinct advantages in life because they have the capital to throw around and make everyone, even titans of industry from time to time, into their best friends. And even worse, a lot of these people are not going to have earned this money themselves. They might have simply been born into the kind of life that you may never get to experience, no matter how hard you work. You think it doesn’t rustle my jimmies from time to time to see people floating through young adulthood with sweet, pre-paid apartments and relatively no pressure to get an actual job? Of course it does. I’m only human. But actually devoting serious jealousy to this — when, even if you do succeed financially yourself, it’s not like that’s going to magically take away their riches — is just an absurd waste of time. Yes, it sucks, but being a Bitter Betty is not going to magically take anyone else’s toys away.
2. Someone else’s appearance.
This isn’t to say that if getting in better shape is important to you, you can’t use another person’s physique for inspiration. That’s fine. But the truth is that some people are always going to look like Adriana Lima, and some people are always going to look like Steve Buscemi’s eyes. It’s a tough fact of life, and certainly doesn’t work in everyone’s favor. But spending a ton of time obsessing over how beautiful another human being is and wishing that your face could magically just rearrange itself like one of those shifting-block puzzles into something more aesthetically pleasing is not going to help anything. Sure, we all might succumb now and then to a small session of Facebook creeping a particularly beautiful person, scrolling through their photos as we occasionally mutter “Damn… damn,” but it’s best not to let that fester into a full-blown case of the green-eyed monster.
3. Who someone else is dating.
Slowly retreating into a hermit-like shell of jealousy over other people’s relationship prospects/sense of connubial bliss and expressing all of your sentiments re: romance with stilted grunts about how you are just going to die alone and how you resent the entire world may be the most efficient way to get people to not like you. Nothing screams “I’m a cool person, come date me,” more than blog posts about how seeing other couples kiss makes you want to punch a small child in the face to prepare them for the unceasing pain of adult life. Sure, we all occasionally look at Kate Middleton and are like balding husband aside, you just married into the last five minutes of a Disney movie and I still eat Nutella straight out of the jar with my fingers while watching Say Yes To the Dress — life isn’t fair. But consuming jealousy is never the right answer.
4. Someone else’s triumphs.
There are times in life when we just can’t win. And personal successes are one of them. Because every time you achieve something awesome and have the audacity to do it where other human beings can see, there are going to be people who think you are undeserving and make their bitter lemon lifestyle known to the world. I often find myself yelling incoherently at the television when I hear about another reality TV star who, despite being barely-literate, is scoring million-dollar book deals — but then I look at myself and I’m like, maybe I should put on some pants and get back to work myself. Because if someone else’s success was aided by systematic injustice, we should call it out. If it is something we want for ourselves, we should work as hard as possible to get it. Almost any response to another’s successes other than blind jealousy is worth having, but just being upset and defeated is only going to shoot you in the foot.
5. Someone else’s social media influence.
There will likely come a moment for many of us at which we feel a genuine moment of envy, frustration, or even sadness at the fact that someone we deem undeserving has an extraordinary number of Twitter followers or consistent flurry of “likes” or “reblogs” on their other social media posting. This moment is also known as the most pathetic of our entire lives, and we should be as aware as possible of how depressing the notion of caring about something as insignificant as Twitter followers for even a millisecond is. It’s okay, the internet has been training us to measure human worth in tiny little “thumbs up” icons for some time now, we all occasionally succumb to its absurdity. But seriously, Kim Kardashian has like eight trillion Twitter followers — and do you really want to be Kim Kardashian? The answer is no, no you don’t.
6. The perceived happiness of someone else.
Unless you know someone, there is really no way of telling how sweet their life actually is. There is nothing to be gained from assuming that someone you don’t actually know is living a perfect life and is incredibly happy. Even if the person is actually as content and flawless as we imagine them to be, their joy effects our own lives not at all. And chances are high that we’re just imagining their perfection, and they have just as many problems and disappointments and frustrations as the rest of us. In fact, they are probably jealous of someone else. At some point, we have to stop the cycle and understand that envy — when not transformed into healthy motivation — is an emotion that, in the end, only eats away at the person who harbors it.