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Struggling with being happier for others? It can be tough, especially if you aren’t happy with yourself. Ladders interviewed Dr. Sanam Hafeez, an NYC neuropsychologist and faculty member at Columbia University and founder of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, to help you learn how to be happy for others.
If you’re feeling miserable or stuck, it can be hard to show joy or feel happy for someone. If you are not exactly where you want to be or are mentally struggling, it can be difficult to hear about others getting promotions, having fun on social media, etc.
Look for underlying issues
There is usually an underlying issue if you cannot feel happy for others’ accomplishments or happiness; this underlying issue is usually depression or anxiety.
Just know that conflicting feelings can co-exist, and it is perfectly normal to feel happy about someone’s success while also feeling sad about your personal struggles.
Avoid comparing yourself to others
To be happy for others, try stepping outside of yourself. For example, try not to compare yourself to what others are doing, as this will make you feel as if you should or could be doing something.
Instead, focus on what you do have or what you are doing. This way, you can be grateful for other aspects of your life and feel happy for your friend or family member’s success or happiness.
If you think, “how are they doing so well and I am not,” ask the person you are referring to questions about their path to success or happiness. This way, you can use their story as inspiration to propel yourself to accomplish your goals.
Also, ask them about their failures along the way to remind yourself that everyone experiences some bumps in the road, and not everything is perfect all the time in your friend or family member’s life, even if it may seem like it.
Be kind to yourself
You should also change the way that you talk to yourself. Try speaking kindly to yourself, and when you find your mind filled with negative thoughts, take a piece of paper and write down I statements with something positive following.
For example, you could write, “I am working hard and am capable of pushing forward.” This way, you shift your mindset and allow yourself to be a better version of yourself, allowing you to feel content about other people’s successes.
If you also identify how you feel — whether jealous, depressed, anxious, and so on — you can more easily move past these difficult emotions and be happy for others. Being aware of your emotions also allows you to build better relationships and talk about your feelings more clearly.
Everyone goes through highs and lows, and social media is notorious for only showcasing the best life others want to portray. No one has a perfectly happy life without any hiccups, and we need to refocus our attention on becoming better versions of ourselves rather than comparing ourselves to others.
If you believe you need additional help getting out of a rut, many services are available to help you reach your full potential. There’s no shame in reaching out for help;knowing when to reach out is an indicator of true strength and maturity. We all struggle, and there’s no reason to struggle alone.