Joseph P. Kennedy once said, “more men die of jealousy than they do of cancer”. Although I can’t comment on how true that saying is, I can say that jealousy has rarely done anyone any favors. The truth is no one is ever one hundred percent detached from that green-eyed monster. If you are, I’d love to meet you.
When a colleague gets that promotion we’ve been starving for or a buddy keeps getting fitter and stronger in the gym, it’s hard not to feel the monster’s sting. However, there’s a new method that’s come to light recently on how we can actually benefit from other people’s successes.
The method is called sympathetic joy, and the way it works as follows:
1. First, is self-reflection.
We need to identify why we’re more perturbed than excited by someone else’s success. By stopping and reflecting on why we react the way we do, we’re able to better identify our own vulnerabilities. For example, an artist might be bothered if his friend’s recent art installation gets raving publicity. Though, when he stops to understand why he feels that way, he might realize it’s because he’s self-conscious towards his own art.
2. Second, is self-compassion.
After reflecting, it’s important we be kind and patient with ourselves rather than getting upset with ourselves for not sharing the joy in our friend’s success.
3. Third and last is sympathetic joy.
Here we challenge the thought that these things we want so bad for ourselves are in limited supply. By asking the questions “is there more, is there another, another promotion, another competition, another chance”, almost always the answer is yes.
In a nutshell, sympathetic joy is the reflection upon the abundance available in this world. When we open up to this realization, we share in the happiness of others with ease because we know we can achieve the same result.
Watch this related video:
Transcript provided by YouTube:
We also do Mudita
trickier! it took years for me to get this one too
Mudita is feeling joy for other people’s success
and I found this interesting because it didn’t make very much sense to me
until I saw a story of a blind man who I follow
he has a rather funny YouTube channel
talks about going to football matches and things like this as a blind person
and he said something like
when people say congratulations
because he’s highly attuned to the ones of their voice
he hears an undercurrent in their voice
that means that they don’t really mean it
and I’ve seen it with myself too
like when people have attained something or achieved something
a little bit of me feels like they didn’t deserve it
on the surface I’m
congratulatory – ‘oh that’s nice you got that good thing’
but underneath I’m kind of like …. well…
it’s researched in psychology it’s called the Fundamental Attribution Error
look that up if you want to look it up
basically it means when something good happens to you
you think that’s down to your good qualities
If I pass an exam – that’s because I am smart
if something bad happens to me
that’s because of the world
so I failed the exam
that’s because of the stupid teacher that didn’t teach us properly
or because he set the wrong kind of exam
or the wrong exam questions
and with other people it’s the opposite
if something good happens to them
we say ‘yeah well everybody passed that exam’ ‘everybody got that thing’
and if something bad happens to them you think ‘well that’s because you’re a bit too …’
it’s called the Fundamental Attribution Error
there’s a lot of research that has gone into this
this is why thieves and burglars think ‘well….’
‘if my friend gets caught and goes to prison
that’s because they were not careful enough and not smart enough’
‘but I get away with it because I’m smarter and cleverer’
until of course they get caught
and then they say ‘well, it was bad luck’
that this person had an alarm or something like that
so there’s quite a lot of research into this
it’s actually true – we feel that other people’s success
somehow isn’t deserved
so Mudita – one of the 4 Brahma Viharas
is feeling happiness and joy for other people’s success
when I first started doing this
When I finally figured it out
I really started to enjoy this
because it’s so lovely
feeling good for other people
‘oh this person is so beautiful’ or ‘has such a lovely car’
or ‘has such a nice life’ or
anything good – it’s really worshiping and praising the good things that happen to other people
Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Shutterstock