Be Happy for the Success of Others

Human nature is that of competition, from the ancient plains of the savannas in the past, to the girders and steel of corporate metropolises on the present, and likely the far-flung future of asteroid mining and space colonization. Because of this drive for dominance, I’m about to say something that runs counter to culture and common sense. It’s an uncomfortable request – a plea completely unnatural when intersecting with the human condition:

You should be genuinely happy for the success of others.

Normal Happenings isn’t about telling you what to do – it’s more about the exploration of concepts that can lead to a bigger appreciation for life. However, in this particular case, I’m asking you: please try to be happy when good things happen to others. It will lead you to a better life.

Let me be vulnerable with you for a moment. The closer in proximity I am to someone, the more likely I am to feel jealous when I hear about their big accomplishments. Sometimes this occurs when they speak of their careers during in-person social engagements like family get-togethers, going out as a group with friends, or conferences with career peers. However, this feeling is intensified witnessing them brag about their deeds on social media, or even worse, when they share photos recognizing them for their accomplishments. Do you feel the same?

I have seen many who experience frustration to the point of depression over the accomplishments of others. For them, it triggers something of an existential crisis: “Look at all the things they’re accomplishing,” they might think. “I’m 26, and I haven’t done anything like that in my life.” Sound familiar? If it does then you’re not alone. I’m a competitive person by nature – just ask my friends on game night — but this is not a time for rivalry. Instead, the only weapon I’ve found against such jealously is being happy for people simply on a human level. Additionally, I’m not talking about superficial fake happiness, as that façade is made of paper and merely promotes the deception of honesty in cultural communication.

It requires training to adapt to this mentality. To be happy for someone else’s accomplishments, the most important thing is to decouple the success of others from your own. As mentioned in the previous post on happiness, there is no reason why the success of others uses up any potential for the same to happen to you. Unless you are in direct competition with someone else for a job or award, their accomplishments are unrelated to your own. Therefore the jealousy experienced though the accomplishments of other people are merely shadows – foes to be defeated lest they take you to a place of cynicism and discontent.

People’s accomplishments are invariably crafted by passion, hard work, planning, help from others, and possibly a little luck – as are yours. Let the accomplishments of others serve as indicators that your dreams are possible as well. And know that their problems do not cease to exist because they received an award for excellence or knocked a business presentation out of the park. Conversely, you are not cursed because someone, somewhere accomplished something before you while traveling through life on roughly the same timeline. Your university education is not worth any less, nor are your training seminars, relationships you’ve made, or passion you’ve put into your art projects. Your time is now, so make the most of it as others around you are so prone to do.

What is the one thing that makes you most jealous of other accomplishments? Also, has there ever been a time when being happy for someone else has led to a more positive outcome for you? Let’s talk in the comments!

  1. This is very relatable. I’m also quite competitive by nature, so I do tend to feel a bit jealous if someone manages to succeed at something before me. But I find it’s worse when I don’t really know the other person very well, maybe just through the Internet or old school friends I don’t talk to anymore, and I think that’s social media’s fault, because you only see their accomplishments. You don’t see the hard work they put into getting there, all the tears and troubled relationships and illnesses. I find it easier to be happy for others if I concentrate on what’s going amazing in my life and stop comparing my life to theirs because no one is on exactly the same journey.

    Emma |

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great points! In the first place, why would I be jealous when I don’t want to do what they did in order to get where they are. And most of all, good for them! I am happy and I will even encourage them to get better. In helping them, this part is what makes people leary of my intentions. They just don’t understand that helping them get better than me gives me joy beyond happiness. Thank you for giving me thoughts to ponder.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great post! I’m competitive also. However, it’s not the destination but the journey that I’m in it for because the destination lasts a minute and the journey lasts days, months, or years.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I was very good friends at school with someone who went on to be A Very Famous Novelist. I wasn’t exactly jealous (I was!) – but I did feel inhibited about getting back in touch with them, and about my own writing. I think I’ve gone beyond that now, but it was surprisingly tough.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ohhh, now I’m curious about who this mysterious Very Famous Novelist is! I could absolutely see how you would automatically compare yourself to them, despite probable differences in genre or writing styles. If it were me, I’m not sure I could ever get past that, so you very much have my respect for moving beyond the inhibitions.

      Liked by 1 person

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