How to be Happier for Others When it’s Hard to Be

A text message from your best friend lights up your phone. You read it and immediately frown. “AHHH! I just landed the promotion at my job!! So happy!”

The familiar sinking feeling in your stomach sets in as negativity surrounds you. How did she get that promotion? What the hell?

To distract yourself, you scroll through Facebook only to see that your old middle school best friend is engaged to the guy she’s been dating for the past year. You sigh. Not another one. 

“Oh my god, that’s so exciting!” you finally reply to your best friend with a thumbs up emoji. “I told you that you were going to get it!”

You then stare at the annoying Facebook post announcing yet another engagement. Skimming some of the comments and seeing who liked the post finally you hit ‘like’ yourself.

Reality Kicks Your Ass.

You know you should be happy but the sudden shock and pang of anxiety doesn’t let you. Face in your hands, you are hit with the reality of your own situation. Stuck in the same entry-level job with no upward mobility and still not engaged to your boyfriend of 5 years. After the initial shock, you are left with dread and disappointment. Anxiety grips your chest.

You try to convince yourself that it’s okay. You never really wanted a promotion anyway. Repeating to yourself that you make a decent salary and like your co-workers. Also repeating that your best friend is going to have to work a ridiculous amount of hours so it’s not worth it. You say these things and just about every other justification that you can think of to make yourself feel better.

You try to convince yourself that it doesn’t matter to you. Even though it does matter. It matters a lot.

We all do this, it’s human nature.

As much as we seem to be happy for other people, to their face, through social media, or over the phone, sometimes you really just can’t be. We play the part of the good friend because we are expected to. In reality, we harbor negative feelings towards what should be a good thing.

We feel jealous, envious, disgruntled, extremely resentful or even hateful of that person. If I am being completely honest, I think you are entitled to feel this way. I know you’re told you are not supposed to feel resentful of your best friend’s promotion but it’s okay. 

Because through all the negative feelings and thoughts you are genuinely happy for them. You still love them, I swear!

Their accomplishment or milestone is just a slap in the face from reality. You want a promotion too. You think you deserve one with a huge raise because of all the hard work you put in. Your friend’s promotion is just another cruel reminder that you still haven’t gotten one.

It is the same with your friend getting engaged. You want to be on the way to getting married too. You have been dating your boyfriend for much longer and know for sure he’s the one. But he’s never brought up marriage or moving your relationship to the next level.

It’s not easy to be happy for someone else when you’re so unhappy with your own circumstances. Your inability to get a promotion is the source for all of the negative emotions and resentment, not your friend’s promotion. The status of your relationship and not seeing it move forward is the disappointment you feel.

You’re allowed to feel this way however…

The line between okay and not okay depends on the actions you take because of those negative feelings. You are allowed to feel the way you feel. You are not however allowed to take those negative feelings out on your friend. It is not her fault that you feel this way.

You are also not allowed to wallow in your own self-pity. Don’t just sit their and complain. Don’t use other people’s accomplishments as an excuse to not make a change in your own life. You can’t blame other people for your situation.  

The world is unfair sometimes, take it in and get over it.  Then do something about it. 

If you’re feeling this way it means that you need to make a change. It’s your brain and your body telling you something. It’s screaming at you, “Hello!! you don’t like this part of your life! There’s something wrong here! Please do something about it!” 

It is a mental, emotional, and maybe even physical sign from reality, to your consciousness that you aren’t happy. If it is getting a promotion, try to find a new job with better upward mobility. You want to get married? have a conversation with your significant other.  If you are bored, pick up a new hobby or meet new people. 

Pinpoint your problem, the real problem.

After you have figured it out, take some steps to solve it. Make some changes and take action. I know it is easier said than done but it is still doable. You are the only thing stopping you. I know it’s scary. If it wasn’t scary you would have done it by now.

Isn’t it worth making a change in your life if you know you want something else? If your body is telling you, you don’t want what you have now?  

Doing anything, even baby steps is better than sitting and complaining or griping about your friend’s promotion (which she probably deserves). 

Now go do something to make a change. This way the next time your friend tells you about a new accomplishment or you see your friend get engaged, all you will be is happy for them. 

Related Articles: What it means when someone says happiness is a choice // Fining Yourself Isn’t What You Think It Is // How I Built the Courage to Quit My Job and Move 

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  • You could certainly see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  • I like how you tackle something that everyone has felt but never talks about.
    Most people try to ignore that feeling when confronting it (thinking it shouldn’t be there to begin with). However, your perspective on understanding it, accepting it and using it for self-improvement is a great way to take something negative and make it positive. Good stuff!

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