They can be two of the most confusing definitions to understand, much less explain: what exactly is the difference between jealousy & envy?

Basically, we usually use “jealousy” to describe the feeling of worry we get when it seems someone’s coming for what’s ours. “Envy”, on the other hand, is the opposite. It’s when YOU want something that belongs to someone else.

However, the big picture isn’t quite that simple. For one thing, jealousy can also be a synonym for envy. If your neighbor owns an extremely valuable lawn mower, and you really love lawn mowers (or the money they’re worth), you could say you’re envious of your neighbor…or, you could say you’re jealous.

Moreover, jealousy is often accompanied by envy. Basically, you get so envious that you ultimately become jealous. For instance: let’s say your recently engaged best friend asks you to be his best man. Over the course of all the wedding prep, it begins to dawn on you that your best friend is favoring one of his other groomsmen (who just so happens to be incredibly handsome, wealthy, caring…basically the perfect new best friend to replace you. So, you start to feel jealous. The reason for that jealousy, though, is because you envy this other guy’s attributes & abilities, along with the attention he’s getting from your best friend.

On the whole, jealousy is most freely associated with territoriality, rivalry, and/or betrayal than envy is. But, if you were unpack things a bit more, you’ll probably find envy right there, too. So, it’s easy to see why the two terms are used interchangeably. The best hope you can have is to try not to have either.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].

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