Family & Education

How to Feel Genuinely Happy for Others

BY Barbara Danza TIMEFebruary 6, 2020 PRINT

When you see others doing well—what’s your initial reaction? In your mind, in your heart—do you feel genuine happiness for them or do you feel a bit uneasy?

More commonly, it seems, it can be difficult to cheer others on, share in others’ joys, truly be happy for others—even loved ones—and mean it.

Though it may be difficult to admit, the negative reaction upon seeing someone else’s good news is a manifestation of jealousy—a pervasive emotion that can lead to one’s own bitterness and suffering in life. If left to fester, you may even find yourself wishing ill on others. The path of jealousy is a dark one.

Though it may feel like a natural, gut instinct, with effort you can let go of jealousy. The result of such an effort is a sense of lightheartedness, compassion, and optimism.

Here are a few ways to begin to let go of jealousy.

Recognize Inspiration

The very idea that someone’s good news is triggering your jealousy can teach you something about yourself. They have or do something that you, apparently, aspire to. That may be helpful information to you in your life.

What’s more, they are showing you that it’s possible. How great! Rather than giving into the negative feelings towards them, try thanking them for the inspiration and wish them even greater success.

Celebrate Diversity

Diversity is talked about in many contexts these days, but true diversity of the human experience exists among all individual lives. We all are born into different circumstances with different characteristics and personalities, talents and weaknesses. The vast variety that exists among humanity is truly remarkable and wonderful—something to be celebrated.

From this perspective, seeing others do well can easily be met with a sense of wonder, rather than disdain. That’s a piece of the story of their life, not yours. You have your own unique path to follow.

Find Compassion

It’s difficult to be jealous and compassionate at the same time. While jealousy is rooted in selfishness, compassion is rooted in selflessness.

The truth about every life is that it contains suffering. You don’t know anyone who hasn’t suffered.

When someone experiences joy, success, or blessings it is truly something to be celebrated. You likely don’t know all that they overcame, the work they put in, or the hard times they went through. You also can’t understand the insecurities they feel or the challenges they face.

If your mind is focused on a sense of unfairness or why you don’t have the same, your thoughts are mired in selfishness. You’re thinking only of yourself.

Instead, choose to cheer on this fellow soul who is enjoying some good in this life. You may find seeing joy in others can bring a deep well of joy for yourself.

Whatever Will Be, Will Be

Sometimes in life you may want something. You believe you have the skills and talents necessary and that it should be yours. No matter how hard you fight for it, though, you don’t get it. This does happen.

Conversely, sometimes what turns out to be the most wonderful aspects of your life seem to have fallen into your lap. This happens, too.

While we may wish to believe that our efforts are all it takes to reach our aims, we should recognize that there are larger forces at play. Your own personal efforts may not always pan out the way you want or may turn out better than you could have possibly imagined. Allow yourself to recognize that you’re not totally in control here.

Fate is not necessarily in your hands. A looser grip on the reins, and faith in something bigger can go a long way toward eliminating the bitterness of jealousy.

Let Go

Jealousy harms people who harbor it, along with the environment they inhabit and those around them. It’s toxic.

If you find yourself feeling jealous—it’s wonderful that you recognize it. That in itself shows great wisdom and objectivity. Now you can start to try to let it go.

Barbara Danza is a mom of two, an MBA, a beach lover, and a kid at heart. Here, diving into the challenges and opportunities of parenting in the modern age. Particularly interested in the many educational options available to families today, the renewed appreciation of simplicity in kids’ lives, the benefits of family travel, and the importance of family life in today’s society.
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