You want to share in your friends’ good fortunes, but sometimes it stings. Here, how to see your blessings and be truly happy for others:
You are enough!
Ditch comparisons: Envy bubbles up within all of us. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, assures expert Joyce Meyer, host of the TV and radio show Enjoying Everyday Life and author of The Everyday Life Bible (Buy on Amazon, $15.99). “Years ago, I tried to be like a neighbor who sewed all her own clothes,” she says. “But when I tried to behave like her, people asked me what was wrong with me.” The path to self-acceptance, she promises, begins with looking to a higher power. “We need to realize God created us to be unique, and we’re not supposed to be just like anyone else.”
It’s okay to grieve: When we struggle to be happy for others, it’s often because we’re mourning something in our own life. “Envy is usually covering up a deeper sense of unfairness,” says expert Karla McLaren, author of Embracing Anxiety (Buy on Amazon, $17.53). “A lot of us try to avoid the sadness we feel because we don’t want the pain of longing for something we can’t have.” Letting yourself grieve the path you didn’t take opens your eyes to the beauty of the path you did.
Broaden your view: There’s no more powerful change agent for how we see the world than gratitude, says expert Jen Hatmaker, author of bestselling books For the Love (Buy on Amazon, $7.34) and Of Mess and Moxie (Buy on Amazon, $11.93) and host of podcast For the Love with Jen Hatmaker, explaining that while comparing ourselves to others shrinks our perspective, gratitude expands it. “Spread your joy for a variety of things, from your friends to your inner strengths,” she says. “Being able to say, I’m grateful for how resilient I am turned important dials for me. The more varied, the greater accrued effect gratitude has on the health of your soul, so you can open to true joy for others.”
Share your joy!
Start with peace: When you don’t like yourself, it’s hard to be happy for anyone else, says Meyer. “For years, I had a record playing in my head that said, What’s wrong with me? And because of that, I couldn’t be at peace with myself or anyone,” she says. Just reminding yourself of your progress in life will help silence this inner critic. “We can come to a place where we like who we are and focus on positive steps we’re taking, rather than things we want to change. Then we can appreciate the good things in others’ lives too.”
Celebrate honestly: You can acknowledge how you truly feel by saying, I’m so glad X happened for you, while at the same time admitting to yourself, I’m sad it didn’t happen for me, urges McLaren. Indeed, Hatmaker makes a point of celebrating her friends’ wins over social media even when she feels a twinge of envy, explaining that one of her favorite priests says, “Live yourself into a new way of thinking.” By leading with actions, your feelings will follow.
Make room in your heart: You can embrace where you are in life and want more at the same time, promises Hatmaker. “If a friend lives close to her grandkids, for example, while yours are far away, it’s okay to say, I’m grateful for my relationship with my family and I want to see it deepen. We have a lot of power-it’s not everything or nothing. You can be happy for what is and hold room in your heart for more flourishing.”
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine.