Why is it so hard to be happy for others?

Sometimes in life, our friends or our colleagues have really good things happen to them such as promotions, new job, new homes, etc.   I would like to think that we would be happy for them and support them, but I think we are all aware that doesn’t always happen.  As a matter of fact, it can be quite the opposite, they get distant, upset or angry!  This doesn’t make sense to the person who is sharing their good news with someone.  They are telling that person because they want to share something good and they get a negative response in return.  What causes people to act this way?  People we like and trust or we wouldn’t be telling them.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Well, I am sure there are more reasons on an individual basis than I can know or really discuss in a single post, but I have 3 general reasons that may shed some light on this topic.

Reason #1 is simple:  jealousy.  You have gotten something that they think they might want and don’t have.  It’s hard to be happy for someone if you’re busy being jealous and focusing on what you don’t have instead of what they are getting.  The truly ironic part of that is  we tend to get what we focus on.  If we focus on what we don’t have, we get more of not having it because we are taking no positive action to get it (whatever “it” is) and we resent that someone else is taking action.  Being negative doesn’t get anyone where they want to be and jealousy is a very negative response/emotion.

Reason #2 is also pretty simple: being selfish in a negative way.  I’ve said before that being selfish meaning “caring for the self” is a good thing, but that if it is taken to the extreme it is a negative.  You’ve gotten a new job or a promotion and the people around you are not happy, they are angry.  Often times it is because of how it affects them, not the fact that it is a good thing for you.  What will change for them is the paramount issue instead of the primary thing being what’s good for you.

Reason #3 is a bit more complicated:  they are too depressed, angry at the world, unhappy with their own life to be happy for anybody else.  This one gets into the possibility that there is something clinical going on that your good news simply fueled.  The issue is theirs and you just accidentally scratched a sore a spot.

In all three of these areas, the problem/issue is the with the person receiving the news, not the person sharing the news.  If you are “rubbing it in” or deliberately pointing out how much better you are or you have it, then that’s a whole different blog, because that’s on the person starting it.  I’m talking here about when we are genuinely sharing something good with people we like and trust and we get an unexpected negative response in return.  I’m certainly not judging anyone here because we don’t know what is going on with the person who’s having the negative reaction, but when we think someone is going to be happy with us and for us and they aren’t, these are some things to consider.

Don’t let others rain on your parade, just share things judiciously with people and understand that your good news may not be good for them.  And tell other people because I am sure you will find those who genuinely share your happiness with you!

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