Wishing Well for Your Friends

How to convert your green-eyed tendencies into celebrating a pal's successes.
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Happy for Her?

Envy: it's considered such a big sin that it makes the Top 10 ("Thou shalt not covet..."), as well as the seven deadlies. Still, psychologically speaking, wanting what thy neighbor has is -- up to a point -- part of being human. So how can you keep envy from killing a friendship? Better yet, how can you convert envy into true happiness for both of you?

First, it's important to realize that even though it can be uncomfortable or unpleasant to envy a friend, it's understandable. After all, "We keep track of our own progress by comparing ourselves to the people closest around us, starting when we're kids. 'She stayed up late, why can't I?'" says Linda Sapadin, PhD, a psychologist in Valley Stream, New York, and author of Master Your Fears: How to Triumph over Your Worries and Get on with Your Life (John Wiley & Sons, 2004). Same goes for our enemies who, more often than not, get on our bad sides by getting what we want (or getting in our way).

Since it's common for friends to share similar goals, it's natural to feel, sometimes, that we're competing for them. If you're not interested in medical school, let's say, when your friend gets in you can be just plain happy for her. But we're not always so lucky. "I'd been toiling as an obscure author for years," says Amanda, 40, of Falls Church, Virginia. "Then a journalist friend got offered a book deal out of the blue and made a mint for something that wasn't even her idea. I could hardly bring myself to buy the book, which is something I'm delighted to do for my other obscure friends!"

Continued on page 2:  What We Want


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