It is not uncommon to find oneself in the uncomfortable situation of experiencing indifference, envy or even dislike before the perception of well-being and the achievement of others. It is often difficult to rejoice in the happiness of others, no matter how much shared love there is, and this could indicate the presence of some underlying psychological problem.
Among them, and as it can be extracted from specialized scientific literature, the most common problem is usually depression.
In this article you will find some keys related to this matter and also how to try to approach this problem to achieve that, without envy or bad feelings, the happiness of others is your own.
“Love is that state in which the happiness of another person is essential for that of oneself”.
-Robert A. Heinlein-
Why is it hard for me to be happy for the happiness of others?
Perhaps you have perceived -well by yourself, or by external comments- that every time a close person brings good news about himself (a job promotion, the wedding of a son or daughter, the reception of a prize …) you experience a first and irrepressible negative emotion. Once perhaps you have also seen this scenario drawn in the emotional state of others.
An emotion that can be diluted in a mixture of feelings of rejection, of envy, of anger, of injustice, of desires for the evil of others … In short, while you are expected to share and make that happiness your own, a visceral blockade and uncontrollable prevents you, during the first fractions of a second, showing a feeling of spontaneous and true joy.
Probably, too, this feature has not always been present in you with more or less intensity. It is then necessary to stop to think that, perhaps, there is something inside you that prevents you from aligning emotionally with the happiness of others; Popular philosophy is wise: how to be happy for others when it has been a while since the person has found happiness of their own.
From a broad perspective, this tendency to be refractory to the emotional well-being of others could be categorized as dysfunctional social behavior. It is precisely in the depressive experiences where the inclination to react negatively to social interactions has been studied more and more clearly; depressive symptoms tend to correlate, however, with a low quality of personal interrelationships.
Also, note that a poor mood is often associated with the erosion of self-concept. An impoverishment of the vision of the self that often also affects its neighbor: self-esteem.
In this sense, we find a curious phenomenon. Important damages in our self-concept make us more prone to highlight in others what they possess, or consider that they possess, to a greater extent or consistency. And, naturally, the result of oversizing their attributes can be a feeling of aversion and a negative attitude to all that circumstance and positive quality that implies the memory and validation of them.
On the other hand, tacit hostility, observable in people with passive-aggressive personality traits, is related to the feeling of envy; it would be this feeling that mediates between a broken psychoaffective state and the tendency to value in negative what others have in positive.
On the other hand, envy in isolation is not a symptom of pathology. In fact, Richard Smith – a professor at the University of Kentucky and a specialist in the study of the phenomenon of envy – points out that part of our survival is based on envy: we use comparison as a measure of our own status and as a driving force towards improvement personal.
Now, if the knowledge of others’ happiness produces too much discomfort or negatively interferes with our lives, we can speak of a problem. A difficulty that will require a solution, in which the following strategies would fit.
What can I do to be happy for others?
We would do well to prevent negativity from taking root and turning us into bitter people, incapable of developing empathic happiness; life, the happier, the better lived. Some of the most efficient measures you can take to achieve this paradigm shift are:
- Feel thankfulGive for what you have. Try to focus on those things in your life that make you feel good and change your mental perspective to stop adhering to those that do not.
- Your worth does not come from external elements. That is to say: vouchers for what you are and not for what you have. The greatest of your riches is in your potential and in what you enclose within yourself.
- Try to find inspiration, instead of discouragement, in the success of others. The triumphs of others can be conceived as the demonstration of the possibility of one’s own triumphs and can serve as a guide to undertake important objectives.
- Realize that there is enough space in the world for everyone’s happiness, including yours. That others enjoy successes, succulent material goods or enviable personal traits does not prevent you from finding yourself in a similar position. The world is big; enough to house millions of winners.
- Have confidence in the future and that you will find a happier place for you in the world. You are not completely at the mercy of random judgments; working on yourself will bring its fruits, and you must find comfort and motivation in that thought.