Don’t Let Envy Make You Jealous

While listening to last week’s Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are in’eresting to screenwriters (which I am not but it turns out it’s interesting to other writers too), I was educated by John August on the difference between envy and jealousy.

According to John, whom I did not bother to fact check because I trust him implicitly (or explicitly? because I just explicated it?), “envy” refers to wanting something that someone else has, and “jealousy” refers to believing that another person is hurting you by having something.

For example, you might be envious of your friend’s new car, but her having a new car is not in any way hurting you. But you might be jealous of a coworker’s promotion because had she not gotten it, you might have.

Get it? Good. So here’s my thesis:

Be envious, not jealous.

My gut reaction when I hear, for example, news of a new TV show based on a blog, is to be jealous. That should be my blog!

But I like to think that I quickly transition to envy. I might wish that I was the one with a show based on my blog, but that’s not happening right now.

It’s not like if To My Future Assistant (which I am totally looking forward to, btw, based on the hilarious To My Assistant) hadn’t been picked up, they’d pick up “Back Home Show” instead. The existence of that pilot does not hurt me in any way.

On the contrary, the existence of this new show, if they pull it off, might even help me. The more TV shows based on blogs that become hits, the more shows the networks will want based on blogs. That’s the biz.

So after that takes off, then Myra’s (My Parents Are Crazier Than Yours) webseries gets picked up by a network, then ten more shows of varying success, the networks will start widening their net for blogs as TV material, and that’s where I’ll sneak in.

Oh damn it, I said I wasn’t going to confess my fantasies anymore. Ok, this was the last one.

One more piece of wisdom, from Scriptnotes’ other host, Craig Mazin: “I’ve never believed that Hollywood was a zero sum game.”

I love this because (a) the economics nerd in me loves the term “zero sum game” and (b) it’s true. One person’s success does not preclude yours. There’s enough happiness for everybody.

Now go forth, lovers and friends, and be envious of your idols; just don’t let it make you jealous.

Thoughts on my thesis? Did I nail it?


  1. I think you nailed it! I don’t like the jealousy feeling. It feels better to be happy when something good happens to someone else instead of feeling jealous. I’m still envious, but I always find myself being happy for that person. I think that’s why I am having such good karma. I may feel envious, but I’m almost never jealous of someone else!

  2. PS I NEED to read that book!

  3. I actually really needed to read this today so while it’s just a post to you, it’s a slap upside the head for me. A slap that I admittedly deserve. So, thank you!

  4. You know it’s coming. Wait for it. Here it is –

    The ABN – All Blog Network.

    Featuring nothing but shows based on blogs. You might be it’s VP of Programming too!


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