The Difference Between Envy and Inspiration

I had a conversation today about the difference between moments of envy versus moments of inspiration. Both emotional states are triggered by an outcome that we want for ourselves. The difference is in how we perceive the path required to achieving that outcome.


When we see someone else achieve something great, but we don’t see how they arrived at that place, then we are in a state of envy. We assume our circumstances are different from theirs. Our approach, skill set, and personality is different from theirs. I see what I want, but I don’t see how I’d get there with what I have now. Envy is yearning without resolution.

Seeing another person’s accomplishments without a clear path to attain it for ourselves shifts us into a zero-sum mindset. I don’t know how I could create the same outcome for myself, so I want what is yours.


When we see someone else achieve something great, and we see the path forward, we are inspired to act. I see what they did, I see how they did it. My circumstances are similar to theirs. I still have work to do, but I can see how I’ll get there. Inspiration is a preview of where I could be.

Seeing a path forward creates a sense of possibility, which places you in a mindset of plenty. I see something I want, I can figure out a way to get my own version of what you have.

I hope my work inspires action rather than envy.