The benefit of feeling happy for others
In thinking about what bliss is and what it isn’t, and seeing people at their best and not at their best, I have to come to realize that there is a state of mind that stands in the way of people feeling happy and “in their bliss.”
That state is one of jealousy and envy. In the Bible and in Shakespeare’s plays, there are many accounts of people who suffer from jealousy, which is not only one of the worst emotions, it’s also an emotion that poisons and destroys lives.
Look at Cain and Abel. When God clearly favoured Abel, Cain, driven by jealousy, killed his brother and was forced into a life of misery and despair. We only have to look to the Torah and to Jewish writings to know that jealousy is always destructive, even more to the person who is jealous than to the person he/she is jealous of.
According to William Penn in Some Fruits of Solitude, “The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves.” In the Book of Proverbs, it states, “Jealousy in the heart makes the bones rot.”
What is jealousy? According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “jealous” means “resentful and envious, as of someone’s success, achievements and advantages.”
Jealousy is when a person feels resentment that someone else has something they think they rightfully deserve. Another definition of jealousy is when someone wants something that belongs to someone else.
In the Bible, God forbids us to be jealous. The reason it is forbidden is that everything we have in this world comes from God, and as it states in Mirrors of Our Lives, “God gives each person what he needs to maximize his potential.”
Jealousy is accompanied by a wish that another person should not have the accomplishment or achievement at all. The jealous person becomes so focused on what someone else has that he/she never develops the ability to figure out what he/she does indeed have. Also, living with a constant state of jealousy creates anger, rage, depression and destructive, unethical behaviour.
How do you know when someone is envious of your success? If silence is the response to the particular success you are experiencing, or if there is a negative energy that you can feel in the room and it doesn’t make anyone feel good, someone envies your success. The jealous person finds it difficult to be happy for you. There is no space for generosity and joy, because he/she is so consumed by the flames of their jealousy that he/she can’t see and be happy for your good news, as it only illuminates what he/she doesn’t have.
I love what Oprah says about the writer and activist Maya Angelou, that when Angelou receives an award, she always feels as if it’s happening to her, too. That’s exactly what we all want to strive for.
Remember, when we hear about someone else’s success, it should make us feel good, too, because we really are all connected to one another and someone else’s success becomes ours as well.
Jealousy is really a fear that you don’t have value, that you don’t have enough. “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own,” says author Harold Coffin. The irony is that by counting the other person’s blessings, you miss the very thing you should be focusing on, which is appreciating and building on what do you have that is unique, original and special. What are your strengths? What distinguishes you from everyone else? Those are the areas that should become your starting point.
The topic of jealousy is a hot potato. It makes people squirm and feel uncomfortable, because we have all experienced a modicum of envy, which can be very natural. If you see someone swim well, you are motivated to improve your stroke. When you hear that someone has just run a marathon, you might even think to yourself, what a lofty goal, maybe I’ll start running. That’s healthy and creates positive energy, motivation and forward motion. So where does it get uncomfortable? It becomes uncomfortable when jealousy stands in the way of your happiness and interferes with your relationships. Jealousy keeps you stuck, and as a coach, my mission is always to get people to move forward.
If you are faced with a jealous person in your life, remember never to stoop to his/her level, ignore the behaviour and fight back with goodness, love and kindness. Learn to be happy for others, because when we are happy for others, we are always happier ourselves.