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True Story: I Dumped Jealousy

June 11, 2010

At some point in my past**, I discovered that jealousy SUCKS. It hurts like very few other things; it is a potent cocktail of sadness, anger, fear, betrayal, loss, pain, and a few other sprinklings of subtle little emotions we probably don’t even have words for in English, but which are probably examined in detail in great works of French and Russian literature. I, like pretty much every other living thing, try to avoid repeating pain like that if I have the choice. You know, stimulus: response.

But unlike most people, I focused on the response, and not the stimulus itself. Most people, once they’ve had their heart ripped to shreds by the green-eyed monster, spend the rest of their lives working hard to avoid the sort of people who inspire jealousy in them. I took a stranger road: I decided to purge jealousy from my vocabulary of emotional responses.

I wish I could claim it was a flash of advanced enlightenment, that I realized that there were too many situations in life that could provoke jealousy, and all of them had more to do with other people’s choices than anything I could control… or that I had an iron grip on the subtle issues of personal sovereignty and the warrior ethics of self-responsibility… or that I was inspired by my extensive study of the Stoics or Zen Buddhism or some age-old and time-tested philosophy… but I’ll be straight with y’all. I was a teenager, and couldn’t reliably take responsibility for my Spanish homework, and my philosophical education at the time ran toward the boy-and-stuffed-tiger variety of Calvin and Hobbes. I think I just did this because I was weird and my brain was too hopped up on hormones and self-absorption to work the way a normal brain would work.

So I set out on this experiment, without every really talking to anyone about it, and without even really considering the wisdom of the task.

The really bizarre thing about it? It worked.

And this has brought me more happiness than you would believe.

** Okay, I know exactly when, come to think of it. I was a freshman in high school, and my boyfriend called me on Valentine’s Day to tell me he wanted to date my best friend.

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