The Secret to Overcoming Envy and Jealousy

I got The War of Art for Christmas and have been devouring it. I had heard of it every now and then. Most recently last June when I met with friend and colleague Brandon McCormick in his office at “The Manor.” We were talking about filmmaking and inspiration and the book came up. He emphatically encouraged me to get it THAT day and start reading it. Well, six months later I finally got it. The beautiful irony of this story is that the whole book is about the evil of Resistance (that thing which keeps artists from doing what they were meant to do) and how to overcome it.

As I read it I’ll make notes of some favorite quotes and blog about them. Today it’s about criticism, envy, and jealousy. A great way to start off 2011. It’s the quote that opens this blog post. Pressfield also writes that “individuals who have realized their own lives almost never criticize others.” A very profound statement.

In the photography and filmmaking worlds I see a lot of jealousy and criticism. People looking to tear down others who have been successful perhaps in areas where they have not. Filmmakers criticizing Philip Bloom about his “portrait” filmmaking style. Photographers criticizing Jasmine Star because she’s only been in the business three years yet was named a Top 10 wedding photog and has almost 28,000 fans of her Facebook page. RED filmmakers belittling the success of DSLR filmmakers. I could go on and on.

And to be honest, I do the same thing. Maybe I’m not vocal about it, but deep down inside there’s that voice in me that puts other people’s work down and I know it comes from this place of jealousy and envy. I get it. It’s human nature. But how to over come it.?


Last summer I took a sabbatical from social media. A significant reason was this problem. Feeling unsuccessful and jealous about not being where my colleagues were. Another irony is that who knows how many people may feel that way about me. The truth is, you can always find someone more popular and more successful than you.

So I stopped to get perspective on life and success. I realized that the plan God has for me will not be won or lost on how many Twitter followers I have or how many people read my blog posts. My duty is to pursue that calling with all my passion.

But I also came to the conclusion that one way to stop the insanity and evils of envy, is to proactively praise others. To some extent I’ve always tried to do that, but I plan to be more purposeful about it. Whether it’s blogging about a fellow filmmakers About page, praising another filmmakers storytelling prowess, praising another filmmaker’s color grading skills, or displaying other filmmakers’ work on my blog. As I continue to pursue my own calling as a filmmaker, along the way I’ll praise others. It’s a lot like giving money. The more of it you give away, the less of a hold it has on you. Likewise, the more you give praise to others, the easier it is for you to have a better perspective about your own success.

2011 will be a great year for me. Not because I plan to create amazing films (which I do plan to do). Not because I will make a fortune (which I’m sure I most certainly will not.) It will be a great year because I’ve already come to the realization that I’m living a dream. And I plan to do more of it this year. And I will enjoy it more because along the way, I will sincerely lift and hold up artists who inspire me.