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How do you stop envy and enjoy what you have?

(71 Posts)
wejammin Wed 18-Oct-17 16:54:52

I think I need a slap and a good shake.

I am currently struggling because I keep seeing the financial successes of my peers and feeling an overwhelming jealousy, wanting what they have.

I have a very demanding, very stressful, but relatively low paid job (high 20ks). I'm a lawyer but I chose a field that is legally aided because I was (usually still am, depending on the day!) passionate about access to justice for all and fighting for those who need help. Sadly it means that a lot of my peers, who I went to uni and trained with, who went into corporate life, have wealth way beyond what I will ever achieve in this field.

Equally my DH, who is very clever, is also a lawyer but he is pretty laid back and not very ambitious, so he has been coasting in a lower paid area for a few years, as it is low stress and easy for him, and he can work flexible hours.

A few of my school friends went into medicine and are currently buying huge houses and holidaying all over the place.

I think my big inner struggle comes from the fact that, at school, I was (trying not to be braggy here) really clever, worked really hard and went to a top uni. At uni and post grad again I did really well. I think I'm finding it hard to be told since the age of 7 that you are above average, and then feel overtaken by everyone who was "average" (and I don't mean that badly, these are all lovely people).

The stupid thing is, I chose to work part time, as does DH, to spend time with our children. Material things have never mattered to me, we chose to live in a small house to keep mortgage payments down, we chose to go camping in the UK for holidays, we have always chosen a simple, but happy life. Now I feel like I'm crumbling and I'm almost tempted to jack in all my principles to retrain in banking law or something, even though I'd never see my kids, so I can buy a fancy house.

Someone please, pass me a grip.

MrsPatmore Wed 18-Oct-17 17:01:07

Comparison is the thief of joy. It must be hard but remember you will never get this time back with your children. They're not bothered about the size of your house or fancy holidays. They will just be happy to have time with you. As they become more independent you or dh can think about retraining perhaps?

wejammin Wed 18-Oct-17 17:08:23

MrsPatmore, you are right. I adore my kids and hope to have more, they bring me so much happiness and I see some of my friends who have been working and not had their families yet, or who work all hours and don't see their babies.

The crazy thing is, my clients often have literally nothing in the world, no money, no family, no stability, and there I am feeling rubbish.

Ultimately I think I would like to become a Judge, but that is decades away realistically.

Bubblebubblepop Wed 18-Oct-17 17:13:24

There is a brilliant TED talk on this in the top 25 ted talks- something like what makes us happy

Annaanaconda Wed 18-Oct-17 17:32:58

My DH sometimes gets like this, envying colleagues (he's a lawyer too). I say to him, you don't know how much your colleagues earn. Okay, so they have big houses, fancy cars etc....but for all you know they could be mortgaged up to the eyeballs and have credit cards and loan bills coming out of their ears to pay for all that. We live in a modest house with modest car and very little in the way of debt. We're happy. At the end of the day I'd rather have less and be happy than potentially be having endless sleepless nights worrying about debts. Don't know if that helps, but it usually makes him see reason!

Wellysocksbox Wed 18-Oct-17 17:36:25

I know someone with a £2million Rectory and a weekend nanny. The children are shits. Be proud that you are helping other people and that your children will be decent members of the community.

wejammin Wed 18-Oct-17 20:00:49

Anna I wonder if lawyers are so aware because of the huge wage disparity across the profession between equally qualified colleagues? Plus the tendency to be overanalytical!

wejammin Wed 18-Oct-17 20:01:26

Bubble thanks I'll have a look for that

Ttbb Wed 18-Oct-17 20:02:23

I remember that worst case scenario we can sell up and move to a tiny cottage in the middle of nowhere and keep chickens. It's not so bad when you think about it that way.

swimster01 Wed 18-Oct-17 20:03:18

A bigger house hasn't brought me more happiness - I am less happy than when I lived in a terrace

wejammin Wed 18-Oct-17 20:07:02

Thanks Wellysocks, I'm trying to remember that (DS doesn't make it easy - 5 year olds don't have straight moral compasses!)

wejammin Wed 18-Oct-17 20:08:58

Ttbb I do have an allotment so I guess I could be self sufficient-ish if needed. That's a nice thought.

wejammin Wed 18-Oct-17 20:10:49

Swimster is that because it's more maintenance? We're in a 2 bed terrace with 2 kids. Some of my former colleagues have bought 5 bed detached even before they have children.

BenLui Wed 18-Oct-17 20:15:18

You live with the consequences of your decisions.

You actively chose your lifestyle, other options were (And still are) open to you, so I find it hard to understand your feelings over this.

It’s worth considering whether you really want a fancier lifestyle or whether it’s just that you resent that you are no longer “top dog”?

A relative of mine makes occasional snidey comments about our lifestyle.

She was always far more successful academically than me at school but she chose a career which isn’t particularly well paid. Her DH’s job is well paid but they deliberately chose to live in London so their living costs are very high.

In comparison we both chose careers that command high salaries and actively chose to stay in Scotland so can afford a home which she could never buy at London prices.

Yes there’s a disparity in our incomes and lifestyles but it didn’t come about through by accident or luck.

She, perhaps like you, doesn’t seem to have recovered from the shock that being “the clever one” doesn’t automatically entitle you to being “the successful one” in later life.

I don’t think for a moment that she’s unhappy with her life but she is unhappy with my lifestyle because she thinks I don’t deserve it.

FeeLock28 Wed 18-Oct-17 20:17:41

OP, you've been hot-housed for high-level success and most of your frames of reference reflect that. Don't denigrate this in yourself. We are what we are.

You've done a remarkable thing in opting to support those less fortunate than many, in a field where most people would slice open their own grandmothers for advancement. People like you are rare and wonderful. That you continue to do so despite the privations means that you are unlikely to be genuinely happy with vast sums, tremendous status, but an empty soul.

Take a few minutes to think about just how hard your colleagues have to work to keep up with the Joneses: they never, ever compete with the same people so they are changing their goals. The equivalent is where we as women compare ourselves with models - models rarely have more than a few years of work so we're not comparing ourselves with, say, Naomi Campbell or Kate Moss, we're comparing ourselves with unknown women who have a photoshoot and then pass out of our consciousnesses.

Look at your beautiful family, your loving partner, your happy home. Do you want to put on a dinner party tonight for people you despise to try to get the next promotion that's beyond you anyway just for the sake of being seen? No? Then let's not! Mwah ha ha!!!

Wellysocksbox Wed 18-Oct-17 20:25:22

At the Pearly Gates, would you like St Peter to say "You were a caring person" or "you were a c***"?

Ijustlovefood Wed 18-Oct-17 20:31:36

The grass is not always greener

Foxyloxy1plus1 Wed 18-Oct-17 20:41:06

You're conflating education, ideals, monetary success and happiness. They aren't mutually exclusive, but they aren't interdependent either.

It's true to say that not having money concerns can smooth the everyday path, but it doesn't necessarily guarantee happiness. And as PPs have said, you don't know what level of debt these supposedly high flying people have.

You have things that some people would give their eye teeth for. Sometimes it's OK to just be!

BackforGood Wed 18-Oct-17 20:42:40

A friend was telling me recently, that, every evening, she and her husband try to think of 5 things that have happened that day, that made them smile, or made them happy. It can be something someone said to them, or a little 'success' {at work or even just that the meal they cooked was tasty}, or it can be something they heard on the news or news that a friend or colleague told them - it doesn't have to be a 'big thing' - can just be they caught the bottle of milk as it was falling before it hit the floor, or that they enjoyed a TV programme, but the y have to try to think of 5 things.
She said it was quite difficult to begin with, but now they are in the habit, it has really turned round the way she looked at her life. She said it sounds corny but it really worked for them - she says instead of moaning about not being ble to afford the house of her dreams, she finds herself thinking how lucky she is that they have their own house.
Might be worth a try.

Slowtrain2dawn Wed 18-Oct-17 20:51:23

Find more friends with a social conscience. Your values are sound.

LetsSplashMummy Wed 18-Oct-17 20:52:13

You have to remember that you cannot be jealous of one thing in someone's life if you wouldn't swap lives in entirety. They have a different balance, so of course one area (money) is going to be bigger but nobody has all the biggest bits together. If you would swap lives, you need to adjust your priorities. There are costs to their lives, advantages you are taking for granted because you are used to the lovely pace of your life and things like a strong relationship with a husband you get to spend time with. Stop taking that for granted, think "I could be in a really long meeting now instead of here."

There are an awful lot more people who are special in the education system than are awarded "life gold stars" as adults. You may have been intelligent but they had other skills, ambition, ruthlessness, etc. that are maybe a better fit with moneyed career paths. You are probably as well paid as academics, who have obviously thrived in the academic environment as well.

wejammin Wed 18-Oct-17 20:54:54

Ben I would never make a snidey comment or feel people don't deserve success. My peers work bloody hard. This is not about anyone else. This is about my own self doubt and a wavering confidence in what I want out of my life.

wejammin Wed 18-Oct-17 20:57:48

Fee thank you, your post has really resonated with me.

Also I hate networking so dinner parties for work are my idea of hell!

Kaykee Wed 18-Oct-17 20:59:44

You’re envious of their things and money?
You never know they may be envious of the time you both spend with your kids, your laid back attitude and sounds like you’re in a great job that you’re passionate about. You ‘cojld’ Earn more but you’re in it for ethical reasons and I think that’s something to be envious of.

As a mum of four kids who is doing the job I always wanted but earn little as I work part time to be with my kids as much as possible. Time is what your kids will remember, not so much what you gave them, mine love a caravan hol, all the stuff that means we can spend time together.
Enjoy the time, don’t envy anyone else because you don’t know what goes on behind closed door.

I live my life, have no interest what others earn, have or spend because I’m busy with my own family and it’s the best way to be 😊

wejammin Wed 18-Oct-17 21:01:10

Backforgood we do this with the children at tea time, just 1 happy thing each day, but they are usually child focused things, good idea to do a "grown up" version later one.

For example, today on my drive home, my indicator signal was going at the exact same tempo as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious on the CD player, which was immensely satisfying grin

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