It’s easy to feel bad about other people’s achievements. We compare ourselves to their personal position in life (as though life is a straight line with a finish!) and usually note the bad stuff.
“She’s got this wonderful job – I’m stuck here!”
“He’s in really good shape and I’ve just finished a burger and chips with plenty of regret on the side”
Whatever it is, it tends to follow the pattern of “they’ve done x, I haven’t done x so I suck”.
This kind of thinking pattern sucks out a lot of joy from every interaction.
Our joy becomes inauthentic, we dislike ourselves because of what someone else has done and the other person may feel guilty for sharing their happiness.
Instead, we can practice mudita or appreciative joy.
Here are four skills we can slowly develop to increase the amount of happiness we have for other people!
- Empathy goes both ways
Empathy is usually spoken about in terms of making sense of another person’s suffering. We step into their shoes to experience the path they walk in order to treat them better in the future.
But really, empathy is a neutral term. It is:
The capacity to understand and share the feelings of others ~ google 2017
Meaning we can do the same for happiness as we can for sadness. And don’t worry, you’re not stealing happiness from them the same way you’re not taking sadness from someone by simply being empathetic.
It’s the result of the empathy which tells you whether you’ve been kind and helpful.
We can develop empathy in a variety of ways. For now, I’ll pass you onto the lovely book Empathy by Roman Krznaric
2. Start with those we do not have a complicated relationship with
Oddly enough, it’s those closest to us which may cause us the most sadness. The self-comparison is often that bit more intense.
But when we start with people our relationship isn’t too complicated with, we reduce the chances of feeling envious or frustrated because we see less of their lives (and have less to compare ourselves too).
So this can be a distant friend or an acquaintance. We take ourselves out of the equation and simply experience the happiness that comes from someone else’s joy.
When we start practising appreciative joy towards people who are closer to us, that feeling becomes more intense and valuable. We’re likely to understand just how much someone wanted that job or how hard they worked to achieve the results they did.
The extra context, instead of inspiring envy, intensifies the joy.
3. Keep your ego in check
Ego is the Enemy says Ryan Holiday and in many respects, I agree. Especially when it comes to being happy for other people.
When the feelings of jealousy and frustration arise due to someone else’s happiness, much of it can be attributed to our ego being starved for attention and jealousy is its way of taking it back.
It doesn’t care whether it brings sadness or happiness, all it wants is attention.
It’s incredibly difficult to be genuinely happy for another person and at the same time be completely self-absorbed.
So when you notice those feelings arise you can ask yourself: am I simply craving attention? The answer is likely “yes”. If it is, you can gently return you attention to the other person’s happiness.
4. Enjoy being happy
It may be tempting to think something along the lines of “I don’t deserve to be happy because someone else is happy!”
That’s just the comparison monster creeping in again. And it’s speaking complete tosh.
When do you deserve to be happy, then? When you’ve crushed everyone around you with your unwavering financial success? When everyone in the world is happy for you and you’re too cool to smile and say thanks?
Forget about whether you deserve to be happy by rejoicing in someone else’s joy.
What you’re doing is a lovely act of compassion. You’re allowing yourself to calm the feelings of envy and you’re directing even more happiness and pride in someone else’s path.
How wonderful is that?
And that is appreciative joy. A remarkably simple practice but one which brings plenty of happiness to everyone who experiences it.
As always, thank you for reading!
My question for you is:
Who are you happy for?
Comment down below :)