Status Envy – Dangerous Territory or Necessary Push?

But so and so drives that….

And so and so got that job…..

I heard so and so makes $100k per year…..

They are so rich!

****

Have you heard someone close to you make any of the above statements?

Better yet, have you found yourself saying any of those? Be honest.

We all suffer from some sort of status envy. If you’re one of the lucky ones that doesn’t, congrats.

Recently I did a guest post and video for my buddy Baker from Man Vs. Debt where I talked about the danger of comparing yourself to others. (the video is below; if you can’t see it, click here)

The quick summary of the post is where I express how dangerous it can be if you start comparing yourself financially to what other people have, drive, buy, eat, and live.

If you fall into that trap of being too envious, you can compromise yourself and your family.

I see people do it all the time sinking themselves into mountains of debt just to make themselves feel like they fit in.

Is it dangerous?   Absolutely!

It it always dangerous?   Maybe not.

At least that’s what Kathryn aka “Makin Sense Babe” believes in her rebuttal video to mine.

First, I would like to say how awesome it is that someone actually took the time to challenge my point of view.   Love it!

Kathryn contends in her video that it’s healthy to have some status envy saying,

You can’t be a halfway motivated person and not have a little bit of status envy.

You can see the rest of her video below:

So is she right? Is it good to have some status envy?

From an entrepreneurial/ambitious standpoint, it’s hard not to agree with her. A lot what motivates me today is seeing what others have accomplished and seeing if I can replicate them – and better yet – beat them.

Is that a slippery slope?

It sure can be.

Just as people can fall into financial problems by succumbing to status envy, it’s very easily done when you start neglecting the important things in life (friends, family, God) just to get ahead and make a quick buck.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen much of that firsthand, too.

So what’s the right answer?

I don’t think there’s really a clear cut yes or no answer. I think both sides make a strong case. It’s just important to not let any kind of envy consume you.

What’s your thoughts? Is status envy always good or bad or somewhere in the middle?

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Comments | 6 Responses

  1. says

    Jeff and Kathryn,
    Balance is key. A healthy balance of status envy and happiness makes the most sense to me. Channeling the success of others to motivate yourself in small doses can be helpful, as can being content with the life you lead. If you’re always hung up on what other people have done, how can you progress? Love yourself and do great things.

    I forced myself to be honest and I really can’t say I have status envy, but I can see how it could benefit people. It’s like competitive drive. You see others succeeding and want to accomplish just as much or–as you said, Jeff–surpass them.

    The danger of status envy rests in the metrics people use. Comparing your material wealth to others seems like a poor way to achieve anything. Instead, set tangible goals with finite metrics, whether it’s tracking your savings account or starting your own LLC.

    -Christian L.

  2. says

    Love this.
    Jeff, on Christian L’s point, you seem to have the healthy balance. It’s probably because you win at most things so you don’t have much status envy, they envy you! Well, except when it comes to cross fit.

  3. says

    I think this kind of dialogue is great to get people to think through points and counterpoints on a financial issue. It is easy to be happy with expressing the bare minimum analysis on a financial attitude: “Jealousy is bad” and “Getting trapped by debt is bad,” but I really appreciate both Jeff’s and Kathryn’s willingness to explore the depth of the topic at hand: how motivation turns into debilitating jealousy and how it is possible to be motivated by a good desire to compete. These discussions keep readers thinking and evaluating their own financial habits and attitudes in a healthy way!

  4. says

    Instead of being envious of others try instead to be envious of the future you. Most of us have desires to be better off financially and ideas of how we would live our lives if we manage to achieve financial independence. Working as hard as possible to get to that level is a lot healthier than just trying to be better off than the guy next door to you.

  5. Lois Mazza says

    I am less concerned with my own ‘status envy’ than I am concerned with the status envy of others. It seems when others feel you have more than they, that is when the trouble starts. It has been my experience that others pretend to be your ally but when you are not around, the are ‘talking trash’ about you.
    I went to school, spent a lot of time studying, ‘networked’ (not easy for introverted me) and got myself a job with ‘status’ (translation: a job that pays better and appears to have better working conditions).
    My (not so) new job does pay better than the one I left, but I am always astonished by professional jealousy. The working conditions are different but not really ‘better’. Work is work, that is why others pay us to do it.
    It has been my observation envy happens all over the place, not just in the work place. I try to guard against it personally and motivate myself based not on what others have but on what I want personally. I have managed to somehow stop comparing myself to others.
    But, there is no way to stop others from envying me and what I have accomplished. I can not control the thoughts and feelings of others. I suppose if I crawled under a rock and hid my gifts and talents, that might protect me from back stabbing co-workers and gossiping ‘friends’.
    I am not going to crawl under a rock. When I stopped comparing myself with others, I also came to the clear realization that I can not control others in any way. I can attempt to manipulate them, but ultimately, the thoughts that go through their minds and the feelings they experience are out of my control.
    Consider every day what you truly want in life. Set your goals, make your plan, follow the plan and enjoy the twists life send your way. Seek to overcome personal envy of any type. Recognize your own unique gifts, skills and talents, embrace them, develop them and envy will leave you forever.

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