When Being Envious Of Your Friends Can Be A Good Thing

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“We hate it when our friends become successful,” sang Morrissey in the early ’90s.

And frankly the song was a relief. It meant that I wasn’t the only one who indulged in the most joyless of the seven deadly sins: envy.

While I might have been high-fiving friends and offering congratulatory hugs to my successful peers, I never could silence the little voice inside my head that whispered, “Why couldn’t it be me?”

It’s not something I’m proud of and I didn’t think it was healthy. From Cain and Abel to Shakespeare’s Iago, our culture is littered with cautionary tales about the evils of envy.

But new research shows that I don’t suck as much at friendship as I first thought. A recent paper published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that not all envy is dastardly, malicious and drives us to kneecap our rivals. In fact, the right sort of envy may even be a good thing.

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