We often use the words 'envy' and 'jealously' interchangeably but did you know that both words stand for two different distinct emotions?
When you are jealous, you fear losing something or someone that you possess to another person.
When you feel envy, you feel pain and frustration caused by another person having something that you yourself do not have yet want to have.
These two feelings or emotions have a common characteristic though - both relate to the rejoicing or taking pleasure from the misfortune of others.
Both emotions are damaging to the person and to someone else.
Consider this in proper usage, 'jealousy' is the fear of losing something that one possesses to another person (a loved one in the prototypical form), while 'envy' is the pain or frustration caused by another person having something that one does not have oneself.
So in essence, envy typically involves two people, and jealousy typically involves three people. Envy and jealousy result from different situations and are distinct emotional experiences.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia states that both envy and jealousy are related to schadenfreude, a German word which means "the rejoicing at, or taking joy in, or getting pleasure from, the misfortunes of others."
The word Schadenfreude became increasingly known in popular culture from the end of the 20th century.
Some examples: In a 1991 The Simpsons episode When Flanders Failed, Lisa asks Homer if he's ever heard of schadenfreude after he expresses delight that Ned Flanders' business is failing. Defining it for him, she says, "It's a German term for "shameful joy", taking pleasure in the suffering of others.
In a 2003 episode of The West Wing, White House Press Secretary C. J. Cregg (Allison Janney) uses the term "schadenfreude" and then has to explain it. Cregg notes that after an important member of the White House staff, a friend of hers, made a big political mistake, Washington insiders will be enjoying schadenfreude. When an assistant asks the definition of the word, Cregg responds, "Schadenfreude: taking joy in the suffering of others. You know, the whole rationale behind the House of Representatives."
Wikipedia states that envy (also called invidiousness) may be defined as "an emotion that "occurs when a person lacks another's (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it.
It can also derive from a sense of low self-esteem that results from an upward social comparison threatening a person's self image: another person has something that the envier considers to be important to have.
Bertrand Russell a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, religious skeptic, social reformer, socialist and pacifist, said envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness.
"It is a universal and most unfortunate aspect of human nature because not only is the envious person rendered unhappy by his envy, but also wishes to inflict misfortune on others."
So remember, jealousy is when you want to keep what you have and not lose it to others, and envy is when you want what you don't have. Good luck!