Patrick Henry once said, “Jealousy is the only vice that gives no pleasure.” It’s an age old problem – something that has plagued hearts, minds, and friendships for centuries. These words were spoken during an era in which social media was unimaginable and the lives and adventures of others were not displayed in real-time. Today, we have access to each other’s lives like never before. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly – live and as it’s happening. Subsequently, we have more opportunities to demonstrate the kind of friend we really are.
Many of us find it easy to be a good friend when our friends are struggling. We’re quick to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on. We encourage and/or commiserate. We pray, lend advice, and listen over wine and Ben & Jerry’s. Being that support system for someone struggling is important – but it’s equally important to be the friend who celebrates and congratulates.
Think about it. Have you ever been excited about something great happening in your life only to be met with jealous responses from your friends? It’s deflating – and it doesn’t feel like friendship.
When a friend comes to you excited about her upcoming vacation, do you celebrate and anticipate along with her, or make a comment about how you don’t get to go anywhere? When a friend buys a new home, are you happy for her, or upset that you don’t have a new house? It’s easier to be happy for someone who is out there doing something you already do or getting something you already have- but what about when it’s something you want, or don’t have? What then?
What if instead of being jealous of the great things happening for our friends and family, we learned to be happy – grateful even? How might that change not only our own heart, but our relationships?
Your friend may be headed out on new adventures. She may be getting a new car, a promotion, a baby, a romantic relationship, remodeling her house, or going on vacation. And you may feel stuck. You may very well be feeling jealous of what your friends have or what they’re doing. We need to figure out how to set aside that “What about ME?” attitude and genuinely rejoice with those who rejoice.
It starts with gratitude. What if we learned to be grateful for the things happening in our own life, instead of wishing we had something else? When we’re constantly comparing our blessings with those of our friends, it’s hard to be grateful. Comparison paves the way to discontentment. We lose sight of what we have when we’re consumed with what others have. Our whole mind-set switches to “have-not” mode, and we let those seeds of jealousy grow until we’re consumed from the inside out.
When we stop comparing our life to the lives of our friends, we reclaim our joy – joy that can spill out into our relationships – strengthening them. And isn’t that what we want? Strong and healthy relationships? I know I do.
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. Work through your triggers. When you feel triggered, admit out loud what you are feeling.
- 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.
I long for each of us to not only have friends who love, support, and encourage us through the hard times and the GOOD, but to BE those kinds of friends as well. Let’s decide to break the cycle of jealousy and comparison and learn to cheer each other on.
To Think About:
- Are you the same type of friend for someone who is rejoicing as you are for someone who is hurting?
- Is there someone in your life experiencing an adventure/blessing that you could celebrate with? If so, send a message/text letting them know you’re excited for them. Like their pictures. Listen to their stories. (Ask to hear about it!)
- Is there a situation with a friend happening right now that triggers you? What is it about their blessing that triggers you? Asking yourself why it bothers you is a step towards working through your negative feelings.