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Why Is It So Hard to be Happy for Our Friends' Success and How Can We Change That

by Fatin Hafizah. |

One day, I was having lunch with my friend when we started to reminiscence about our college years and the friends we’ve made throughout which later turned to a session of “Where Are They Now?”. While going through the list of names, me and my friend can’t help but think that while some people are still finding their way, the other some really do have it all together.

As painful as it is for me to admit this but at that moment, I can’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy to those friends who seemed to have it all together. It used to not bother me so much but it became especially hard when my life is not going very well. A few nights of self-reflection and countless self-help articles later, I came to my own list of what can be done to combat this ugly feeling we feel from time to time.

We are probably feeling this way because at the back of your mind, you're subconsciously telling yourself that you and your friends started off this "journey in life" at the same time and now they are earning more, travelling because of their work and such. It's okay to feel this way but never normalise it because once you do, you won't be able to get out of it.

Image: iStock

Okay, back to the list. This feeling is something I'm trying to overcome with as well and here are few ways I found to be helpful. Not do I feel better but I have a newfound goal; striving to improve myself for the better. I learned that being jealous wouldn't get me anywhere:

1. Create a gratitude list

Image: Amazon

You may have heard this a million times already and I’m sorry for that but hey, if this idea keeps popping up on your feed, there might be some truth to it. This is something which I am still practising as I am not doing it as often as I should but I find that whenever I am feeling down, I will go back to the lists I made and read it. It does not solve my problem of the day but the lists will always make me smile and honestly, it is nice to be reminded of the little things that made me happy. My advice on creating the list is don’t try too hard. Be simple and straightforward and more importantly, you should believe in them. Just because it’s a simple and trivial thing, does not make it less meaningful.

2. Congratulate that friend of yours.

Whenever I hear about my friend’s good news, my immediate response would always be to congratulate them for it (and no, I don’t mean it in a sarcastic way). I would simply smile and congratulate them or be excited with them and honestly, it’s not as hard as you think it is. In fact, you will feel much better about yourself! I strongly believe that you attract what you think and receive what you believe. If you can be happy for someone, one day you will feel that happiness too. It’s all about positive thinking. It is easier said than done but with practice, it will be a natural thing to do.

3. Take it as an inspiration and seek advice

Life is short and you simply can’t learn from your own mistakes and successes alone. So, take a look at another person’s success and be inspired by it. There is nothing wrong with admiring another person’s success. It does not make you less worthy and it definitely does not diminish your worth. If you're close to this friend of yours, seek advice or ask them if they are willing to share their ways of overcoming the hurdle that's stopping you from achieving what you want.

Always remember that you don’t know the hardship they have to go through to achieve what they have now. You only know what they show you. So, instead of being jealous, listen to their story, take a lesson from it, and apply it to your life as you see fit.

4. Give yourself some time and space

I understand that being happy for someone else when your life is not doing so great can be hard. If the point above is too much work for you or you are not ready for it yet, do this instead: retreat yourself. If you find your friend’s posts and happy updates are something you cannot handle right now, stop looking at it. Hide their posts, unfollow, or whatever it takes to stop yourself from turning green from envy. We are all humans after all so it is completely okay if you want to take a break from your friend(s) and keep your distance. Use that time to focus on yourself and regain your confidence.

5. Believe that your time will come

They don’t say patience is a virtue for nothing. It is a hard thing to do. Being an impatient person myself, I always want quick answers, quick solutions, everything quick, quick, quick. It took me years to realise (and I still need to remind myself from time to time) that great things take time. We all move at a different pace in life. Nothing that lasts comes quick. Be patient with yourself, allow yourself to grow at your own pace, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. Every time I find myself questioning God when will my time come, I am reminded by a quote from Paulo Coelho in his book, Like the Flowing River which goes “And may she travel slowly because her pace is the pace of change and change, real change, always takes a very long time.”

Of course, I am not saying that this is an easy thing to do. In fact, it is hard. I am still struggling as well but I hope after reading this, you will find the courage to start changing the way you think. Shake off those negative feelings. It will bring you down more than you want it to. Keep believing that everything will happen on its own time and you are where you are supposed to be. Stop draining yourself from unnecessary feelings and instead, feed yourself positivity and kindness­ — to other people and yourself. As long as you keep on trying to improve your life and yourself, life will eventually come to you.

You may find out more about Fatin on her Instagram too.

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