There is a huge difference between these two emotions. Feeling envious and feeling inspired seem to come from a completely different place. When we see someone further along than we are, maybe their business is larger, they are in better shape, their relationships seem healthier, their parenting appears better. Whatever it is, we want it and we actually want it now - right?
This is especially pronounced with social media. I have been following artists for years and collecting my favorites on Pinterest and Instagram like a lot of us. I had some periods where I couldn't even look at all the great things they were doing, the successes they were having because I wasn't taking action in my own art so I found it discouraging. I was envious and it deflated me. This says more my confidence and belief in myself than anything but I think it's interesting.
Those people whom I admire got there through lots of hard work, creativity, problem-solving, persistence and determination - right? I mean otherwise, they wouldn't be running successful businesses. Or they wouldn't be in great physical health or have good relationships or you fill in the blank - they wouldn't be getting the results they are getting. The point is they didn't achieve this magically, they earned it.
When I began to see my mentors this way, the envy faded and became an inspiration. Envy feels awful: tight, closed, small and depressing. Inspired feels alive, expansive, open and exciting. Envy says, "you'll never be that good, they are lucky, it must have come easily to them." Inspiration says, "you can achieve this as well if you are willing to work for it, overcome obstacles and not give up."
Now if the chasm is so great that it feels completely overwhelming, then I find "mile marker mentors (MMMs)." This practice has helped me tremendously. The idea is that you find someone just a little ahead of you and let them be your mentor until you reach them, then you find the next MMM and so on along your journey. Like mile markers on the highway.
When I find someone that's way ahead of me (lots of those!), I still may choose them as a mentor but I place them further along in my journey to study later on so that I don't get overwhelmed. With this process, I now have about 10 - 15 mentors at various stages of where I want to be in various areas of my life. And do you know what? I've never met most of my mentors, most don't even know they are my mentors. I follow them on social media, get their blogs, study what they are doing, etc.
So you can do this no matter where you live and begin to change those feelings of envy into inspiration.
Always be looking for those people who can show you the way, there are endless teachers online sharing so much valuable knowledge these days for free!
Let me know who your mentors are, I'd love to hear!