When a friend is struggling, needs to vent, or is having a bad day, most of us are there in a heartbeat. We’ll stop what we’re doing to listen, console, or encourage. We’re okay with people who are hurting. But what type of friends are we when our friend is in a season of blessing? How do we respond when they get a promotion, post pics of their latest trip to Mexico, or tell you all about their newly remodeled kitchen? Are we the same type of friend for someone who is rejoicing as we are for someone who is hurting?
Do you struggle being happy for other people? Do you find yourself faking it? Unfriending or unfollowing those you’re envious of? Are we really happy, or are we resentful?
It’s easy to be happy for a friend who purchases a home if you’re already living in a home you love, but what if you’re renting and feeling like you’ll never save enough for a down payment?
We can rejoice with a friend who announces her pregnancy if we don’t want any more children or aren’t trying to conceive, but what if you’re struggling through infertility or just suffered a loss?
Again, we smile and easily click “like” on the vacation photos of a friend when we too have the ability to travel, but how do we react when we haven’t traveled in years?
How do we react when a friend is on the receiving end of something WE want? How can we manage to set aside the “What about ME?” attitude and genuinely rejoice with those who rejoice?
When good things happen to someone else, our need to compare is often triggered – and we find ourselves raising ourselves up while simultaneously tearing them down.
Comparison immediately paves the way towards discontentment. Suddenly nothing about our life is good enough. Our whole mindset switches to “have-not” mode. With our eyes focused on the blessings of others, we cease to recognize our own. We want what they have. Jealousy is a take-over emotion – consuming us from the inside out.
We become bitter and slowly start to build walls between ourselves and those we’re jealous of. Relationships become strained in the wake of our need to compare and compete. In failing to celebrate with others, we create an atmosphere where there may be no one left to rejoice with us when success or joy comes our way.
So how can we lay aside comparison and genuinely be happy for others?
- Stop counting someone else’s blessings and start counting your own. Adopt an attitude of gratitude in your own life. Focus on what you have.
- Recognize that when someone else succeeds, you don’t fail. Someone else’s success does NOT compete with yours. Life is not a competition.
- Name your emotions. When you feel triggered, admit out loud what you are feeling. What is it about their blessing that triggers you? Asking yourself why it bothers you is a step towards working through your negative feelings.
- Celebrate the accomplishments, successes, and blessings of others – out loud. Congratulate others. Comment on their celebratory Facebook status. Like their photos. Encourage them. Lift them up. Be sincere.
- Be inspired – not discouraged. Is there anything you can learn from your friend? Any habits you can imitate? Work ethic to adopt? Some successes are chance, some aren’t. Take a few minutes to evaluate if there is something you can be doing differently.
- Know that being happy for others – makes us happy too. It may sound counter-intuitive or backwards, but when you think about it- we reap what we sow. When we are sowing seeds of joy and gladness for others, we can’t help but feel joy ourselves.
- Know (and know it deep down in your soul) that happiness and joy do not (and will NEVER) come from things, stuff, experiences, or achievements. You may end up getting the very thing you’re envious of your friend having, and still be unhappy. We MUST learn how to be content. Learning to be okay with what you have when you have it is key. We choose our happiness.