Friday, 13 January 2017

Finding Joy in Other People's Joy

The lovely Suzy of From the Fringe is having a Joyous January on her blog - a month of joy themed posts to inject some positivity into our lives during what is a pretty difficult time for the world. Suzy encouraged others to take part in Joyous January, and, inspired by her sunshiney ways, this post is my contribution.

A sky full of multicoloured balloons

You know that feeling when you receive good news? It's a special kind of joy - something is good is happening for once! But when that good news is someone else's? Our reactions can differ. Sometimes we're pleased for them, "Yay for you!", sometimes, we may act like we're pleased, when secretly we're feeling upset, down, maybe even exasperated, when their good news is the good news you want. It can be so easy to compare; "Why does it always happen for someone else? When is it going to happen for me?" But what we're doing in those moments - even if just quietly, silently in our own thoughts - is making their good news about us. But it's not about us, it's about them, and it's their moment.

Not only is the comparison unhealthy for us - everyone's "journey" and experience is going to be different, because people are different, so it's not really helpful to compare; it's not going to happen for you like it happens for someone else, and vice versa - you're also taking away from them. It's a small step from upset, down and exasperated to resentful, but this is your family member, your friend, your co-worker, someone you care about, and it's not their fault things are yet to go your way, and jealousy can be hugely damaging to relationships. You're reaction to their good news can dull their own joy, and that's just not fair.

I don't know when exactly, nor do I even think I made a conscious decision about it, but at some point I just started feeling happy for other people's successes, whatever form that may take. I don't just mean a simple supportive, "That's wonderful, go you!", but actually allowing something good happening to someone else to brighten my day. It doesn't matter whether their success or good news is something that I'm reaching for or not, I allow it to be a reminder that yes, good things do happen to people, and so, at some point, good things will happen for me.

But, now, before I even have that little reminder go through my mind, I genuinely feel such huge joy that someone I care about is happy. Because so much crap does happen, and sometimes it feels like there's more crap than there is anything else, and a lot of my head space is taken up by worrying about people who's lives aren't so great right now. So the good stuff? That's huge! That is amazing, and I feel just as elated as if the good news, the success, was my own.

A friend of mine is just about to sign a contract on a two book deal (I can't say anything about anything, as, as the contract is yet to be signed, it's yet to be announced), and I am so excited for her, and will ask her for any news on the process whenever I can. It's just incredible! When Fiona of The Escapologist's Daughter tweeted that her novel has been shortlisted for the Bath Novel Award, you should have seen my grin! I'm so ecstatic for her! Kathy of I am Kathy B wrote recently about her new relationship, and, as it wasn't so long ago that she was heartbroken from the break up of her previous relationship, I was so over the moon to see she was so incredibly happy again! Just yesterday, my brother was told he got the job he had been interviewed for, and I can't even tell you how bloody amazing this is, because it's more than a job, it means more confidence, a happier working life, and, ultimately, better health. It's just huge! And my dad? Well, he got a pay rise and a surprisingly fair-sized bonus recently, despite only working at his company for six months - which is just unheard of! Not only is my dad now enjoying his job, but the work he does is also being appreciated, and I just couldn't be happier. And, as you know, my friend Caoimhe has taken the huge leap to become an au pair in Spain for seven months - something she never would have expected she was capable of. But she's out there now, and she's doing it, and I really couldn't be prouder.

Being happy for other people also makes such a difference in my own life. When I say that good things happening to other people brightens my day, I really mean it. Something good happening to someone else can literally change a meh day into a bloody wonderful day. By feeling so glad for others, my life is happier. And really, your own genuine happiness for someone else's good news and successes can actually add to their joy, because they have someone so supportive on their side.

Finding joy in other people's joy is, really, good for everyone.

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