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.
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