Remember when somebody you knew received a promotion, achieved something great or got a better job? Do you remember what you felt in that moment? Happiness? Jealousy? Now recall your last achievement or accomplishment. How good did you feel about yourself?
When the job market is competitive or you feel like your income falls short, there are times when we might think to ourselves, Why don’t I have the same status, money or success as that person?
But think for a minute how good it would feel if you were just as happy for another’s success as your own. Why? The benefits of celebrating others’ success can include creating optimism instead of feeling put down, the vital protective ingredient in a recent Harvard University study. Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the study looked at 70,000 women and found that a sense of optimism might reduce the risk from dying of major causes, including cardiovascular disease.
What does it mean to be just as happy for the success of others as for our own? Well, it’s a matter of attitude. Adopting a praising and loving attitude will help you bask in the success of those you know and with whom you feel a personal connection. This might be difficult at times, but it’s a great way to help us lead more positive lives and get more in return. Learn the benefits and see how your attitude shift can boost your well-being.
If we celebrated others’ success as if it were our own, we could feel a huge surge in positivity and joy, which can lead to greater optimism, the latter benefiting our own health. In the previously mentioned study, an optimistic view on life was shown to protect not only against cardiovascular disease, but also prevent premature death from other major causes such as cancer, stroke, respiratory disease and infection. Such rewards in terms of health are compelling, and they confirm there is power in positive thinking. In fact, another earlier study found that positive psychology “assets,” such as optimism and positive emotions, are predictors of good physical health.
By being courageous and selfless enough to embrace others’ success, we also get the benefit of greater satisfaction. We feel fulfilled instead of bitter. For example, your best friend gets a job offer at a great company and you don’t know how to feel. You might feel happy but conflicted, especially if you feel less successful at the moment. But having the courage to celebrate your friend’s success as your own can lead to personal satisfaction when you think, OK, I now know someone who works at X company! Your inner circle of affiliations and acquaintances grows, and you can feel appropriately satisfied by that.
According to Tai Goodwin, author and founder of Brilliant Business Girlfriends, a website and podcast, celebrating others can improve your relationships with them as well. “Healthy relationships involve sharing both ups and downs,” Goodwin writes. “People are more likely to respond positively to you if they sense that you’re truly happy for them.”
Not only does your inner circle of affiliations grow with others’ success, but you can also potentially find personal success. For example, say your best friend’s company is advertising for other positions. Now you have an internal referral that might benefit your own career should you desire working with the same company. What’s the psychology at play here?
- We can be mindful of opportunities that come with others’ success. This requires optimally an attitude and perspective adjustment. You might miss out on opportunities and lose your time being bitter without changing underlying feelings and effectively the view you hold.
- Conceptualizing your own success after another’s success means being sensitive to the changes in circumstances as well. For example, you might need to wait several months before applying for a job with company X where your best friend was hired in order to use him or her as a referral.
Beyond seizing an available opportunity where possible, our sense of embracing others’ achievements helps to expand our own willpower. American football player and coach Vince Lombardi said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, nor a lack of knowledge, but a lack of will.” Our own will can be awakened, in turn, when we see the success of others.
Now, with an understanding of some of the benefits that come with celebrating others’ success as your own, use these tips to put them into action:
- Write down three ways that the other person’s success can be beneficial to you.
- Congratulate the other person for their success through a greeting card, social media post, gift, etc.
- Share the good news with your own family and revel in the atmosphere of positivity.
Get motivated to find your own passion and work toward greater personal success.
Najma Khorrami is a global and public health professional with a passion for writing to help others. She is a writer for The Huffington Post and Layali Webzine. Najma has worked for The Center for Global Health and Diplomacy, Northern Virginia Family Service and others, and she has contributed to global health projects for institutions including the Pan American Health Organization. She enjoys cooking and exercising.