Why Is It So Hard to Be Truly Happy For Others?

I find it extremely hard to be genuinely happy for others, to watch other people succeed. Even though most of the time I am actually not feeling good seeing somebody succeed, I acknowledge it’s rude to behave like I’m not happy about it, therefore I am doing my best to at least look like I’m happy when a person — especially a friend — is achieving something valuable. But internally I understand it’s not an honest reaction. And that bothers me because it often happens in situations when, interestingly enough, there’s nothing to be jealous about.

Here’s what they say in The Daily Stoic book:

Watching other people succeed is one of the toughest things to do — especially if we are not doing well ourselves. In our hunter-gatherer minds, we suspect that life is a zero-sum game — that for someone to have more means that we might end up with less.

What I have to teach myself is to actively cheer for other people — even in cases where that might come at my own expense — and to put aside jealousy and possessiveness. It’s in our nature to show our friends affection and to celebrate their advancement.

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