Being happy for others...

There have been many challenges in my personal development that have been huge taken years to overcome. When I say overcome I don't mean that they have been consigned to the rubbish bin never to show their faces ever again either.

What I have found is that with personal growth we become more adept at spotting what we want to improve, and through reflection faster and faster at identifying what has happened. That ego is a clever fellow, but very necessary, as our influencer and soul mate on the journey. Our ego knows us so well, perhaps when we truly make him / her our friend and not our "guide" we begin to see a different path.

Some of the most difficult challenges I have faced are those when squaring up to the ego and looking him straight in the face... These include, comparing myself to others, trying to be better than those I associate with, "love" of money (not just the need, that is part of today's society as it stands) and proving how successful I am (compared to others) with all the material trappings...  The ego soothes when we feel good in these areas... but.. it is a slippery tortuous path that the ego would have us travel, we can stumble and fall on this path through no desire on our part. That is how it is for a simple pawn in the games of other people's plans.

But in our highly competitive society, these are not the only traps we can fall into. There is as much danger in "what we do not do" as in those listed above; where we purposefully and with intent set sail and rudder towards our destination.

I went through an exercise of inviting stakeholders (those with an investment in our relationship) to spend an hour in the company of a very dear friend of mine to enquire as to what they believe my weaknesses are and where they thought I could improve my behaviour.

I had never bared myself in such a way as to directly invite those closest to me to put me in the dock like this. A while back now I had undertaken a mental shift in a workshop once, where we were asked to imagine stumbling into a church. At the front was a casket with a body in it... when approaching the casket you realise that it is you in the casket. Turning around you realise that you know all those in the church who have come to pay their respects... four people speak that day... one of your children, your partner, a sibling and a lifelong friend... what would you want those people to say about you? ... I have to confess this was a life altering moment for me... only in this moment did I catch a glimpse of that which is most important to me, in my life...

Getting back to the stakeholders. A humbling experience indeed to learn who you are from others, as opposed to believing who you think you are from your own internal feedback loops... In truth much of what was said I already knew... but knowing things, working on those things, and changing them, are all very different.

One of the items that came up was... "I could praise people more", tell them that they have done a good job. We all like that don't we? ... being told from someone that we respect (perhaps) that we have made a good contribution, that we are valued. You know something... I know why this problem exists for me, I have always known, but it is a hard habit to shed... comparison... I know that if a task is easy for me, I don't put any value on it (and consequently on myself). If the job is easy and I think nothing of it, I won't praise myself so why would I praise anyone else. This is pretty big... I am working my way through it... The final words to share with someone they have done a good job is the simple part, the real work is inside... deep inside... where comparison lurks and self worth resides.

Happily, I have spent thoughtful and reflective hours pondering my behaviour and unpicking these emotions, the feelings, and the building blocks of my character from childhood... it is not easy work...

This leads me on to the title of this blog piece... "Being happy for others..." ... in a world built on individualism, comparison and success, one could be forgiven for thinking that "Being happy for others" is going in the wrong direction. Why would I want to be happy for someone who has just acquired what I want, just got the promotion I've been waiting for, just got the dream partner I've been searching for... actually I'm super jealous... any smile from me would look like some kind of prosthetic grimace face, complete with botox, like something from the muppets.

For super competitive people this idea of being happy for others is a bit of a misnomer... however, what it often does inspire is, redoubled effort, and extra competitiveness, all on steroids in order to overcome this minor setback and to "win" even bigger... all based on comparison and envy. Neither of these outcomes are healthy for us. Stress and anxiety can go through the roof... and you know what, it really has nothing to do with us!

Letting this go... accepting that people being happy, people having good things happen to them is a good thing, is a really tough one. How do you change a lifetime of thinking like this? ... Well it takes ages; years... of the hardest work we ever have to do... imagine trying to convince yourself to be happy for someone when you are not? ... when you believe they don't deserve it, you work harder than they do, why can't you get the breaks, the easy ride? How come everyone else gets the luck? ... it isn't easy... and yes inside us all is the capability to come to terms with these emotions and intelligence (thinking) that creates these negative stories, and realities for us.

When we are truly happy where we are, we can be authentically pleased for others as they create the life they want for themselves. Why would we not be happy for them enjoying their lives?  Because we ourselves are not?  ... perhaps?

Have you been reading these words and thinking? "This is all very ugly now I see it written down, but actually all this could have been written about me!" (or maybe... It;s just me, the only one who's had this messed up stuff!!)

I think what has helped toward the understanding of myself is the realisation that right now I am in exactly the place I need to be to receive what I need for the continuation of my journey. Others are are receiving what they need... whatever that is... if, it is my time to receive these kinds of things that others are having bestowed upon them in due course, then so be it...

Final words

The work on myself to overcome the challenge of "being happy for others" has taken time (still work in progress as it always is) and was so very hard (initially). At the centre of my thoughts was to always remain humble, on each day to build gratitude for what I already have (so much), and, underpinning it all, frugality, to take only that which I need from this planet... practicing these principles has first and foremost taken me down the path to inner peace and fulfilment for where I am at this very moment, but also; for the future path upon which I now travel...


  1. A great and interesting read Chris, and really rather Spooky, On Friday i started drafting a blog "Who are ya?" talking about ego and when we may have a deluded view of who we really are . I don't need to write it now, i think you've covered everything lol! Your piece raised alot of different emotions, the sign of a balanced and well written piece. Thoroughly enjoyed it, thank-you :)

  2. Hi Stacey thanks for your thoughtful comments above... when we are authentic and honest with ourselves it really does give us the opportunity to visit these tough topics with renewed liberation. There are a whole raft more coming up!


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