We've already discussed our jealous co-workers, but what drives their envy and how old are they?
Researchers at UC San Diego looked into it, and discovered that younger people tend to be the most envious, and over a longer list of things! Here's the main gist of our jealous ways, according to the press release:
Envy was a common experience. More than three fourths of all study participants reported experiencing envy in the last year, with slightly more women (79.4 percent) than men (74.1 percent).Are these findings surprising? In some ways, no. It makes sense that we let more things go than our waistlines as we age. When we're young, we're constantly looking around to see how we're doing in comparison. We may still do it a bit as we get older, but we also learn how to put things in better perspective, how to discern what truly matters, and when to speak our mind versus when to hold our tongue.
The experience declined with age: About 80 percent of people younger than 30 reported feeling envious in the last year. By ages 50 and over, that figure went down to 69 percent.
These traits certainly don't ring true for everyone over a certain age (69% is still a decent number of envious elders, and we all know a keep-up-with-the-Joneses Gen Xer!) but time does teach us to pick our battles a little bit better. Some things simply aren't worth the time and trouble anymore past a certain age, especially at work.
So what are today's 20-somethings so jealous of, exactly? Curiously, it sounds like something straight out of Mad Men. Millennial men tend to envy "occupational success," while Millennial women most envy someone else's looks. Perhaps not surprisingly, envy breaks down along gender lines. Men tend to envy other men, while women tend to envy other women -- at work, and everywhere else.
What the paper doesn't examine is how our decade of birth formed our basic sense of envy. In other words, how did growing up as a Gen Xer -- without social media, 500 TV channels where nothing's ever on, and the pressure to wear designer duds by second grade -- impact how we see others? And how does our sense of envy compare to the Millennials, some of whom are in the process of disappearing from social media due to the continual pressure to look perfect?
These are great questions, but here's the score: If you're under 30, then a few of your same-gender, same-age colleagues are most likely envious of you in some way, shape or form! It's called being young, and this too shall pass -- and more quickly than you think.
Your older co-workers, meanwhile, wish you would learn to pick your battles better so as not waste valuable mental energy ruminating on things you can neither control nor change so we can finally get some serious work done around here.
On that note, we don't need to get everyone's input before making mundane decisions like deciding which office pens to buy, because this business-by-consensus mindset is slowing everything down, Millennials! But that's an entirely different study that hasn't been conducted yet. I'll be envious of the researcher who finally makes the decision to conduct it.