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Is There a Cure for Jealousy?

Is There a Cure for Jealousy?

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Question:

I am struggling with jealousy in many areas in my life and in my relationships. Any words of advice for me?

Answer:

Let's analyze jealousy for a moment. You're jealous of your friend's car. Why? Hers is nicer than yours. You're jealous of a colleague's intelligence. Why? It's greater than yours. You're jealous of your sister's artistic talent. Why? You don't have any yourself.

All jealousy boils down to the same thing. They have something you don't, and it's something you want.

Our Sages have a famous saying, "Who is wealthy? He who is happy with what he has." One who is satisfied with his lot in life does not struggle with jealousy, because he does not desire more than what he has. So your friend has a nicer car than yours. But you're happy with your own. Mr. Big Shot at work is smarter than you. You're content with the intelligence G‑d granted you. You lack artistic talent. You have your own abilities.

So let's refocus. Instead of "how can I stop being jealous?" the question really is, "how can I be happy with what I have?"

This question happens to be fundamental. We believe G‑d is all-knowing and good. All knowing means He has full knowledge of what is best for you to have in life; and good means He will grant you what is best for you to have. If G‑d has not seen fit you to give you that car or house, that means that having that car or house at this point in time is not in your best interests. So what's there to be jealous about?

Obviously, it takes a bit of work to make this line of thinking natural. There's no automatic mental switch. But the result is more than worth the effort.

Malkie Janowski is an accomplished educator who lives in Coral Springs, Florida. Mrs. Janowski is also a responder on Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi team.
Image: Detail from a painting by Sarah Kranz. Ms. Kranz has been illustrating magazines, webzines and books (including five children’s books) since graduating from the Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan, in 1996. Her clients have included The New York Times and Money Marketing Magazine of London.
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sp ioannina, greece August 15, 2012

Dear Lori I don't understand pretty well your comment. I don't have that much knowledge of the Bible. You might be more precise when it comes to assertions mentioned in the Bible.

But I can certainly say from experience that strong jealousy is sometimes a symptom of temporal lobe epilepsy. And that has been established by medicine.

God is God but for our safety (own) , it would be better not to play with health and rely instead on the advice of medicine.

I would prefer not to confound placebo with biblical characters such as Moses who are of true reverence. Reply

lori hsb, id via jewishidaho.com August 14, 2012

@sp ioannina greece Zechariah 8:1-2 and 1:14 Nahum 1:2 Numbers 5:14 Ezekiel 8:3
you wrote:[Jealousy in its mild forms is not a defilement, however strong forms can be a sign of an underlying psychiatric disorder and that needs to be addressed because serious harm can follow. E.g. Some types of temporal lobe epilepsy are accompanied by pathological jealousy.] We must be careful on what we as people do as to not cause such jealousy.. For God is a jealous God and with no psychiatric disorders. Reply

sp ioannina, greece August 4, 2012

Is that really true? The article is well written and very convincing.
But can one imagine a world without jealousy as long as there is competition?

What I see is tough competition and that is a huge contribution to jealousy.

Jealousy in its mild forms is not a defilement, however strong forms can be a sign of an underlying psychiatric disorder and that needs to be addressed because serious harm can follow. E.g. Some types of temporal lobe epilepsy are accompanied by pathological jealousy.

The assertion "Who is wealthy? He who is happy with what he has." can be misleading.
There are cases of patients who have undergone medical procedures to cure some sort of disorder and the intervention has resulted in the patients becoming contented with a "dull lifestyle", with no ambition and in an apathetic state. One patient kept reading the same book (a children's book about cats) each day after the interventions and was happy. His wife complained that he had become a child though. Reply

randerson FRESNO, CA February 11, 2012

reply to what about someone whom makes nasty lies My thought is that when someone makes lies up about someone else, it is usually because they are insecure themselves or unhappy and might even think it makes them appear better than you. Perhaps covering up their own flaws. Often, we humans have a defensive side and with that we often have felt pain, loneliness, jealousy...with that said "he who cast the stone" to hurt others is probably hiding their own pain of some sort, or just out right a mean person. Reply

Anonymous Bellevue March 16, 2010

Re: anonymous in Bellevue Same guy.

He just needed time to get past some insecurities. He had been hurt badly in his past (long story) and needed to feel secure financially and emotionally before moving forward. Now there is a house, a car, a good job he's been at for five years, and I'm in school again. Before, when things from his past kept coming up on a regular basis -- taking time, energy, and money -- he was exhausted (so was I) and couldn't relax because there was the constant fear of losing his job (due to the time and energy going to this stuff) & house & so much more. Reply

mally london March 16, 2010

jealousy What about when a person is jealous and as a result s/he makes nasty lies about you and destroys your life. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA via jewishriverside.com March 15, 2010

Dear Anonymous in Believue Mazeltov! Is it the same guy? What changed his mind about marriage? Reply

Anonymous Bellevue March 15, 2010

Re: Advice to woman I had forgotten I even had the comments from this thread being e-mailed to me. I'm glad I do though since I can give you all an update.

I am now 25 years old and engaged to be married - as of two weeks ago! We are setting a date for next summer (at my request -- he was looking at sooner). My family is thrilled (they really like him) and I couldn't be happier.

I've also started school again and will be about to transfer for my final year by the wedding.

Obviously the wait isn't for everyone, but in my case it has turned out wonderfully. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA via jewishriverside.com March 15, 2010

Advice to the woman who wants marriage... Please tell your guy you are waking up and smelling the roses. If marriage is what you want internally, how can you be HAPPY with hiim? It may be better to be ALONE rather than with a man who dangles the proverbial carrot in front of your face for five years. He, my dear, is content with the status quo. You are NOT content. You are only hurting yourself through this wishing and wanting. After 5 years, I would say to get tough, be strong, and give him an ultimatum in a kind way. Say, "If you want me to be happy, I need marriage." If he doesn't want marriage, that means he doesn't want you to be happy. Leave, if so. Be happy being alone, visit many Chabads. Talk to many rabbis. Someone will fix you up. Have faith. G-d WILL send you a beshert, at a time you LEAST expect it. Be open to G-d's blessings. Please don't hurt yourself any more. Reply

Anonymous Lburg, VA March 15, 2010

Envy I think the author was confusing jealousy with envy. Jealously is the fear of losing something - evny is the desire for something you don't have. Reply

lori hsb, id via jewishidaho.com November 13, 2009

Our offerings. God gave us guidelines on these specific topics because He knows we fall short. Jealousy is merely a feeling. Feelings are easier to deal with if, the "why" question is answered. Our need to act is where we get in trouble. I once had this conversation with my husband... He desires to have a corvette someday. I asked him if you had one how fast would you drive it? He said he would floor it to max! I laughed and told him thats why God won't give you one. Even with a corvette you cannot reach a fulfillment, because if it broke down it wouldn't be getting you anywhere. Sure you can say you have one but it isn't worth bragging if you can't drive it. Happiness is Joy, a Fruit of the Spirit. You can be happy in a dented up Pinto, happy you don't have to walk. Cain and Able, one had a better offering. But our Best is what God looked for, if we never looked around at others we would be happy because we worked so hard and know how much we put into ourself. Reply

Anonymous London, UK July 26, 2009

jealousy People who are jealous of something the other has should check if they have similar attributes. Your friend is a talented painter you might be a good cook or good liar. To be a good liar is to be able to make up stories so write stories and publish them instead of making up bad stories about your friend because he is a better painter/artist. Look into the goodness G-d gave you and use that to improve, not to put someone down because you are jealous of them. Reply

neal murfreesboro, ar July 23, 2009

jealousy / good health Shalom, my life is full of pain, a constant. How can I not be jealous of people in good health when every step, movement is painful, even typing here causes discomfort to my arms and shoulders...

Be safe and blessed, Reply

Anonymous MB, USA July 23, 2009

Jealousy And what if you are a "Joseph" personality? What if you are one who someone is always being jealous of? Sometimes to the the point of trying to throw you into the pit, or under a bus, or undermine your best efforts? The other side of jealousy hurts too. Reply

Aviva Denver, CO July 23, 2009

cure for jealousy I think it is also important, critical in fact, to find true happiness in others good fortune. Feeling the joy for another as though it were yourself allows you to share in the joy and true happiness of the other. It truly remedies the problem and brings people closer together as they know that your joy is real. Reply

Dorona July 23, 2009

Limiting yourself I understand this article in the context of jealously but if one is content with their lot in life will they strive to better themselves and their life? Reply

Felix cave Creek, AZ July 23, 2009

Jealousy but waht about when a person Jealous to his/her spouse??? Reply

Anonymous San Antonio July 23, 2009

Jealousy Will you speak to the kind of jealousy that is between a man and woman in a relationship? Reply

Anonymous San Antonio, TX July 23, 2009

Jealous--Admission of Lack "Common sense" should now more properly be referred to as "natural sense."

I think Malkie has a good point: Being happy with what we have frees us from being imprisoned by what we want which, in this case, is a nagging sense of lack, and which is a kind of spiritual poverty. What we have is what we need. Acceptance of that leads to peace and an opening for more blessings to enter a life. If like attracts like, then the energy of lack and poverty would only attract the same. Emptiness within equates to emptiness without. Reply

Aaron Katz NJ, USA July 23, 2009

This article is about envy There is a difference between jealousy and envy. Envy is easy to over come, and the best method is the one described in this article.

Jealousy deals with one of two emotions. One is that you feel like you are being overlooked by someone else who you care about. Two is that you feel you need to control the person you care about. Interpersonal relations are inherently difficult to deal with. It may in fact be the reason why God created other people. I mean for this challenge. Reply

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