On Envy, Secret Identities, and a Blue Twisted Journal

On Envy, Secret Identities, and a Blue Twisted Journal
What’s better than one life lesson? I don’t know… How about three?

How to Stop Being the Jealous Type

Being the jealous type is so easy. You get to be mad at everyone and torture yourself until your heartstrings all pull you apart. You get to go insane even when there’s no good reason to.

There was a girl I was seeing a couple years ago. Things were going good before jealousy got the best of me.

Someone started flirting with her and trying to squeeze his way in. It wasn’t working, but damn it, I was upset. I stopped talking to her because how could I be hurt if I was the one to let go first? Stupid me.

Jealousy makes you do stupid things, like walk away so no one can walk away from you first.

The other day I was envious because a friend of mine had his website featured in an article that got a lot of traction, 25 Killer Websites that Make You Cleverer.

Without a doubt, a lot of traffic went his way because of that article. The article he was on even on the front page of Reddit too I think. This list had over 100,000 people share it!

Vincent Being EnviousHe deserves to be on that list, but I was wondering why I wasn’t on that list too. I mean, I wrote for him once and that post got tons of traffic. Where’s my list?

But I snapped out of it. Envying is stupid and it’s a waste of time. Envy doesn’t do anything for you but upsets you and rarely do you do something productive with that energy.

If you can find a way to use envy as fuel then by all means do it. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to do that.

How do you stop being the jealous type? You start practicing Stoicism’s negative visualization technique.

Negative visualization is picturing the worst-case scenario on a frequent basis.

You would think this would make you pessimistic and cynical, but doing this will actually turn you into an optimist. You’ll realize you have more than enough and that things can always be worse.

Here are three different examples of negative visualization you can try:

  1. “…suppose that you currently have a good working set of eyes. Imagine carefully what it would be like to live your life as a blind person. You would have to work very hard to rearrange your life to remain functional — learn braille, take special precautions when walking around town and when cooking eggs at home, etc. — but in the end, you could surely survive and even become happy again if you were blind.

    But now open your eyes. SURPRISE!! YOU HAVE THIS BONUS OF SIGHT!!!. Wow, you were already doing just fine in your blind life, but now you have working eyes too? What an incredible life – you are truly blessed with more than you even need.” -Mr. Money Mustache

  2. “Close one hand into a fist, lets say your right hand, then try to go about your day with only the left hand to do whatever needs to be done. Try showering, putting on a shirt, tying your shoes, typing, eating. Then open your right hand.” -crow6671
    One Hand Negative Visualization

    Here’s a picture of me doing things with only one hand. Photo on the right is proof that I did it with one hand. But wait… Who took that photo of me taking a photo? The world will never know.

  4. “…imagining that you are drowning, close to fainting, you would give anything to be able to breathe, and suddenly… “AIR!”, and you take the most satisfying breath ever.

    Think about it, if you can take pleasure anytime you want simply by breathing like it’s the best thing in the world, how can you be unhappy?” -FlorentBerthet

Get the idea? Share some ideas you may have in the comments.

On Wearing Masks and Being Yourself

Next subject. Did you know I’m a superhero? I don’t have a cape, laser vision, or super strength, but I do have a secret identity. Actually, I have a few.

One part of my alter ego is the nerdy free bird. Some of my friends only see the goofy guy who jokes around all the time without a care in the world.

He’s the one who is making references to tv shows and movies. They see the guy who doesn’t take anything seriously but can do just about anything. He’s unafraid of shouting off a mountain at 1am into the city lights.

Others see me as the idiot. They confuse living in the moment for recklessness and ignorance. They don’t understand what it means to think unconventionally and do things a bit different.

The people who see this are usually from an older generation where times were different. They’re forgiven and I don’t mind them too much.

Some see me as their idol. Someone who can do no wrong but only can inspire and light the fire to motivate them to achieve great things. I like being that guy. True superhero, that guy.

The only thing that scares me is when they think I can never be mistaken. I mess up all the time and some of how I see the world won’t be for everyone. It’s never a one size fits all sort of scenario.

This website is a huge part of my life yet no one in my family knows but my uncle. I don’t even know how many of my close friends know about it.

I don’t talk about it. It’s just something I do. Something that I wake up every morning thinking about and part of me that I go to sleep dreaming about. Cheesy? Yeah, but maybe being cheesy is my superpower.

While I’m working my butt off all day writing something my family would assume I’m messing around on the computer.

The interesting thing is that I’m all of these alter egos at the same time. What happens is that people only see what they want to see. You can’t convince someone to view you differently because their mind is already set.

Instead, display yourself loud and proud so the world can come to their own conclusions.

Some will see you as eccentric while someone else will see you as a visionary. Another person can think you’re the smartest person in the world while another will look at you like you’re insane.

Don’t try so hard to wear different masks hoping people will like you. Be you.

The next time you’re waiting in line at Starbucks you can turn to the person next to you and engage in conversation. Practice being yourself with this person or the next 20 people you talk to. Share a story about yourself or just listen to theirs.

I know, you’d rather die than talk to someone else. In that case, this will make great practice for stepping outside your comfort zone.

On Habit

I try to write every day and I’ve been successful for at least five months. I borrowed a technique from Jerry Seinfeld where he bought a large calendar and drew a red X every time he wrote a joke for the day. “Don’t break the chain,” was his advice. I don’t have my whiteboard anymore, but I still write every day thanks to Mr. Seinfeld.

Here’s what my whiteboard looked like on day one (JS.’ I W.E. stands for Jerry Seinfeld’s Idea Write Everyday:)

Picture of my Whiteboard

I have this blue Moleskine journal that I used to write in pen with every day. I documented ideas, my thoughts, my struggles, and my achievements into it.

You should have seen this thing. It was a flawless journal that I spent good money on. I brought it with me on a camping trip and left it in a duffel bag. Of course, it got wrinkled up and looks like a mess now, but I think it adds character. Too bad I haven’t written anything into it for months.

I don’t write in that journal anymore because I found the writing habit that works for me. Now I just go on my laptop and type.

Don’t get so caught up in trying to create 1,000 different habits for yourself.  Find the ones you truly want to stick with.

I was trying to write in the journal and type every day. It was too much. It was too easy to say “Well… I already wrote 500 words on my laptop today. Do I really need to write in my Moleskine too?”

You will trick yourself into thinking you are productive when you try to juggle different habits before eventually dropping some (or all) of the habits. Stick to the few that make the biggest impact on your life. For me, it’s using my laptop to write in hopes that I’m changing the world.

Photo Credit: Thomas R. Stegelmann – Flickr and Seth Dickens – Flickr

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

Latest posts by Vincent Nguyen (see all)

18 responses to On Envy, Secret Identities, and a Blue Twisted Journal

  1. About jealousy…it’s one of those emotions that you would think we would all grow out of at some point. But really, we’re all just a bunch of high schoolers who want to be loved and accepted. When other people get attention, we wonder why we’re left sitting alone at the lunch table.

    One idea would be to visualize yourself on a deserted island, like the movie Castaway. The only “person” you could be jealous of is a volleyball head named Wilson. When you come back to reality, you realize how lonely life would be without your friends and family. All the issues we become jealous about seem unimportant in light of living life alone.

  2. I agree with Chris,

    Jealousy is simply unproductive and puts you on the wrong path. So it’s no longer about you trying to grow and achieve your goals but to simply outdo the other person due to ego purposes to validate that you’re better than they are.

    You may be a lot further on your path, but it will always make you lose satisfaction with what you’re doing.

    There used to be a guy at my school who used to play the Violin with me and used to brag and show off that he was a lot further than I was and would often remind me of this consistently. But around 5 years later, he decides to quit because he realised that the violin wasn’t really something he wanted to do and was simply doing it for the wrong reasons.

    Meanwhile, I carried on with my progress and achieved my goals, and bettered his ability in the process 🙂

    It’s all about goals and letting go of your ego. There will always be someone better than you out there in the world, which will be more apparent due to the internet being vast, but it’s ultimately a game you will never win. It’s far better and healthier to simply do your own thing and focus on your own improvement.

    • That guy probably had tons of insecurities about himself. I had my bragging days as well. It felt good to talk about yourself and let others know just how cool you really are. What I eventually began to realize is that I felt shitty about myself and felt like I had to get validation from others. If you’re truly secure in your abilities then you don’t care to have the world agree with you.

  3. I’m quite happy with dictating notes and ideas in Evernote, as opposed to always carrying a notebook and pen(cil)… perhaps in someone’s eyes that means I will never amount to anything, but it’s what works for me personally. I just finished a post about why idolization is bad. And I think jealousy comes from a sort of illusion that is akin to idolization..

    When I find myself feeling jealous, I instead try to look at the object of jealousy as a possible destination, and think about how I could get there.. weighing the pros and cons as objectively as one can in a thought experiment, and usually conclude that it’s not right for me… although when it comes to things like getting featured in a viral post, or winning the lottery, it’s hard to know what to think at times… haha.

    Also, I’ve done some reading on stoicism, and I find it almost funny how much it overlaps with my own philosophy, one that I have arrived at without ever delving into stoicism. I guess my problem is how bad I am at following my own philosophy, and it seems like you think stoicism could help me with that? Hmm.. I might just read that book.

    • I definitely think Stoicism will help you. Check the book out. It’s worth it for so many more reasons than the negative visualization technique.

      Be careful with thinking too much about pros and cons. You don’t have all the answers in your head and you’ll find that sometimes what you viewed as either pros or cons weren’t necessarily accurate. Take risks and live life instead of being too calculative. 🙂

  4. Vincent!!! What a passionate post. Jealousy is a good tool for getting pissed enough at myself to take action and go get what I want. Fitness, guitar and fun with my wife are my best habits and I am a sticking with them. May your evening be filled with succulent fruits!

    • Mmm… Succulent fruits. In fact, I have a couple people going to the market for me right at this very moment to pick up mangoes, bananas, and other fruits! Apparently the Philippines mangoes are the best shiznits ever.

  5. Ah, jealousy. It’s one of those feelings that can be destructive, but we often just can’t help. That seems to happen especially in the online world. You see someone come up with a post that takes off and you wish that it happened to you. Or you see someone on Facebook that keeps posting about all the fun and awesome things happening to them and you start to get jealous. Something I always try to remember is that there is often a story behind the story. Just because you see one side of what’s happening, doesn’t mean there isn’t another side behind it. I try to keep things in perspective that way.

    And I try to use jealousy to my advantage. Get mad and take action – do something awesome back.

    • Using it to your advantage is the best case scenario by a long shot. There have been a lot of things that I went out and did as a result of envy. Maybe envy is the wrong word for it because it’s more like inspiration. Although, sometimes it is a bit of envy mixed in there.

  6. Very wise article, Vincent! I was jealous when young and because of it I made some stupid mistakes. I learned a few lessons and overgrew it in time. Now at 68, I get pleasure of others’ joys and success and work on being or doing the best I can, independently of others.

    Enjoy your stay and work in Philippines, and come back safe!

  7. Great picture picked for “on envy” 😉

  8. Oh my. I did not think I was the jealous type. But in another sense- I was envious- of those bloggers who started after me and yet are doing better! Yes Vincent- I’m mad at you and all of you! Haha. Good thing, it works as an inspiration for me.

    I would have thought that I was one of those serious guys into self-improvement. But my goodness you do techniques that are way too hard and weird (in a good sense) that they seem to work!

  9. That “envy” picture looks like you’re ready to smack someone! Haha – great work buddy, I loved the personal touches in this post 🙂

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