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  • Writer's pictureZach

Envy Never Ends

Just two weeks after I graduated university, at the ripe old age of 21, I moved to Thailand to teach English.  I had a blast.   My job was pretty easy, I had good friends, I traveled throughout South East Asia, there were elephants.  I was just starting the process of becoming a genuine adult, and everything was an adventure.  The problem was, I wasn't making much money.  Even though I had a TEFL and a Bachelors degree (not in teaching though), I wasn't a "proper" teacher, and that kept me out of real, accredited International Schools which payed 3-5 times what I was making.  I envied those International School teachers and their (relatively) giant paychecks! 

22 year old me in Thailand

I knew I wanted to teach, that I loved it, and that I wanted to do it away from my home country of the United States. But I felt that if I was going to do this, or possibly support a family one day, I was going to have to elevate myself to the ranks of reputable International Schools.  This meant going back to school to get my Masters degree in teaching, and leaving my relatively stress-free life to do so.  

After a year and a half, the opportunity arose for me to do just that, and I did.  I left Thailand, went back to the States, and got my Masters, while teaching there.  It was hard, I was working 50-60 hours a week at a terrible Charter School, and going to school full time on top of that, but I did it, at the cost of my health and sanity.  I jumped at the first International School job and moved to Bahrain, starting a 13 year career as a "proper" International School teacher.  

The money and benefits are indeed better.  It's opened many doors for me around the world, and given me incredible experiences that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise.  But, being a teacher at the schools I've been at, and most that I've had friends at, is NOT easy.  The hours are long, the parents demanding, the administration exacting.  Many a time I have looked back at my life in Thailand with envy for the lack of responsibility I had, for my freedom from stress. 

No matter which situation I found myself in, I envied the other side.  I wanted the other side for what was lacking in my current situation.  We can only live the life we currently inhabit.  And that life will have downsides; things that annoy or frustrate or enrage.  We will always imagine our lives without those things, whether that's a future state where we have a better job in a better country with better bosses and co-workers, or a nostalgic view of a past situation where we look with rosy glasses at a time we didn't have our current difficulties. 

Downsides lead to desire, which causes suffering because of our perceived lack.  Due to this system, it seems like we are doomed to a life of dissatisfaction and envy.  

But, unlike your ex, I will not leave you dissatisfied!  There is a solution.  It doesn't require a down-payment, or a credit card, or intoxicating chemicals.  

It is simply gratitude.  The ability to focus on the things you're grateful for instead of what you're lacking.  

Here are a couple gratitude enhancing techniques that I've used to help me be more at peace with my current situation.

  • Keep a gratitude journal.  I do this on my phone, but some people recommend you do it on actual paper.  I simply write down the things I'm happy for.  When I start to feel envious of another situation or person, I read through my list and try to add something new.

  • A gratitude mantra.  When I get consumed by negative thoughts and swept up in those anxieties, I think of people in my life that bring me joy, that I'm grateful for.  I repeat their names and picture their faces for a minute.  It is extremely effective at breaking my thinking out of negative patterns. 

I bet that there are plenty of things in your life to be grateful for, whether it's the ability to see, have enough food to put on your table, or read my amazing articles!  Start a gratitude list today that you can re-visit whenever you need.  Break the chains of negative thought that keep you mired in envy. What have you got to lose?

If you liked this post, come join the discussion over at The Happiest Teacher Facebook Group! I would love to have your voice added to the discussion! Also, if you're into that Twitter life, come follow me!

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