The 7-Day Envy Challenge - Stop Comparing Yourself with Other Artists

In the end of last summer, just when I was about to take my self-built 1973 Mercedes-Benz camper van on the road and spend as many nights as possible away from the city and its many obligations, the universe decided that I was gonna stay at home. In bed. For quite some time.

Thanks to a disrupted disc in my lower back, my sciatic nerve (the huge one going from the pelvic bone all the way to the toes) became infected, and an unbearable pain spread through my entire left leg. I had felt a modest sensation in my back for a few months prior, and one day I wasn’t able to get out of bed.

For more than a month, I couldn’t stand up – and definitely not walk – for more than five minutes before I had to throw my self on any couch or bed within arms reach. After a few weeks, only being able to work lying down in bed, it started to get to my head. Almost no human interaction, and growing increasingly tired of looking at my ceiling, I started going to my favorite café and spend hours working from one of their couches.

The worst finally passed, and I could spend more and more time walking and working sitting up. After a few months, there was only a discrete – but constant – pain in my leg. From time to time I had to lay down on the floor to rest, other than that I learned to live with it.

But today, I realized that it is completely gone. I haven’t felt any pain for a couple of weeks (still kinda stiff though, need to work on the stretching). So the pain is finally gone, after more than half a year. But it left something extremely valuable. A gratefulness for having two legs that work perfectly (most of the time).

Here’s a challenge for you.

For the next 7 days, every time you find yourself being jealous of another creative because they have a skill or a number of followers that you currently don’t have – think of two things that you have (skills, body parts or things) that you are grateful for.

If you see someone with a better camera than you or a full-time studio that you yet can’t afford; think about at least two things that you do have to create your art. A sharp pencil, a fresh bunch of brushes, two hands, and two eyes.

If you see someone creating something that you don’t have the skills for (yet), instead of feeling that envy creeping up on you; think of two skills that you do have. It could be the ability to hit that crazy high tone, or drawing exceptional eyes, or using the light to create amazing portraits. List as many as you can. Then, start practicing that new found skill, letting it take its time.

Here’s the thing. If you were to attain that thing or skill you’ve wanted for so long, you would surely feel great. For a relatively short while. But before long, that thing would turn into everyday normal. Something you take for granted. Then you’ll have to find something new. We want more and we forget what we already have.

But if you consciously are grateful for what you have, your brain will be less inclined to look for things missing and start appreciating what is already there.

That will make more happy emotions which will actually lead to more creativity! It is scientifically proven that bad emotions (fear, envy, hate) narrow your thought patterns whilst positive emotions (happiness, gratefulness, curiosity) actually makes you more creative!

Creating art is not about the equipment you use. The people manufacturing and selling that equipment will sure make everything they can for you to believe that it is. But they are liars.

Art is not about the gear but the message. You don’t need anything else than a blank piece of paper and a pen to move someone. To change someone’s way of thinking. To create amazing art.

Here’s the latest post:

Jens Lennartsson
Written by
Jens Lennartsson

I want more people to create and become more fulfilled persons. I’m an artist and storyteller, living in Sweden. Most comfortable in my 1973 Mercedes camper van.

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  1. Abhishek Mukherjee

    Jens, sorry to hear you had back trouble but I am glad you are doing better. I have some persistent knee trouble right now and I envy all those photographers who can carry view cameras and camping gear for day long hikes and take amazing shots in the wilderness. I have stayed jealous of those amazing street photographers who live in big-busy cities (I live in a sleepy little town) and have lots of opportunities to hone their street-photo skills. I must shift my thinking and thank you for inspiring me to do so.