Being Happy for Others Can Make You Happy Too

Wishing happiness for others can say a lot about you. If you truly celebrate others' joys, without feeling envy or frustrated, you're a truly selfless person. Wishing happiness for others can also bring you happiness.
Being Happy for Others Can Make You Happy Too
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Being happy for others is a selfless act that can say a lot about you. Even better, this type of personal focus and real intent for others’ well-being can make you happier. However, you might come across people that say, “I want you to be happy, but no more than myself”. This contradicts what human relationships are all about.

You’ve probably had similar experiences. Something like going up to someone that you cared about to tell them some good news, to share with them whatever good thing happened to you. Right there, you probably felt some tension, falsehood, or that uneasiness that means something’s amiss in your relationship. A sort of discord between emotions and reciprocity.

Being happy for others is recognizing their successes.

Feeling annoyed by others’ happiness can mean something darker than just envy. Sometimes, it feels like a blow to your self-esteem. Likewise, noticing others succeeding and reaching their goals while you’re stuck in your own insecurities. It’s not easy feeling happy for others while you’re deep in frustration.

Being happy for others and celebrating their accomplishments can give a sense of well-being. It has nothing to do with ethics, moral, or religion. Actually, there’s a valid and interesting psychological basis that can scientifically explain it.

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”

-Robert A. Heinlein-

Being Happy for Others is Selflessness for a Healthy Heart

Earlier this year, Iowa State University released a very interesting study. Doctor Douglas A. Gentile and his team in the psychology department selected a group of people that had been diagnosed with anxiety and stress. For several days, they taught them a simple technique that yielded very good results.

Simply put, they had to walk for 15 to 20 minutes every day. While doing this, they had to practice kinhin, meditate while they walked, ran, or just worked out. Likewise, while the patients walked, the psychologists asked them to experience kindness, calmness, and wellness.

To experience that, they were asked to wish happiness upon the people they met in their walk. This way, the simple fact of projecting and wishing wellness and positivity upon others, made them feel happy too. Their minds had fewer worries and obsessive thoughts. Their inner calmness and the fact that they focused on affection gave them comfort and satisfaction.

Being happy for others can improve your work relations.

Have Purer Thoughts Focused on Kindness

Doctor Gentile proved three things with this experiment. First, stress and anxiety levels dropped significantly, and not just because people were exercising. It meant changing their inner dialogue, and, above all, their emotional focus. It went from an inner negativity to stimulating their mind to project kindness unto others.

During their walks, being happy for others, even if they were total strangers, increased their empathy and their feelings of social connectedness. Suddenly, they actually noticed other peoples’ faces more, they were more open to the outside world, and, especially, the humans in it.

Being Happy for Others Makes Us Free

Some actions, words, or thoughts can have certain kinds of consequences. In psychology, this is called a boomerang effect or the action and reaction principle. Thus, something as simple as being able to be happy for others can also have an impact on your life.

There’s an emotional reward and some kind of catharsis. Think about it. Imagine, for example, that one of your co-workers is very envious. They’re one of those people that peer at everybody and sees uncomfortable with how good you’re doing.

A couple hugging.

If you try to imitate them, this negativism, discomfort, and confrontation will make you feel bad and stressed. On the other hand, wishing them well relaxes you. Accepting that everybody is their own person and being happy for them will make you feel free and will keep your mind in a good place.

The saying “Do what’s right, come what may”, can also be “Wish for others’ happiness come what may.” Because the simple fact of projecting good vibes can change your inner dialogue and opens up your mind towards others. Practice this simple advice to improve your health and human connectedness.

“Learning to not envy someone else’s blessings is what grace looks like.”

-Rupi Kaur-

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Douglas A. Gentile, Dawn M. Sweet, Lanmiao He. “Caring for Others Cares for the Self: An Experimental Test of Brief Downward Social Comparison, Loving-Kindness, and Interconnectedness Contemplations.” Journal of Happiness Studies (First published online: March 21, 2019) DOI: 10.1007/s10902-019-00100-2

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.