What Happy People Do Differently - Part III

It’s easy to assume that when we encounter difficulties, it’s the presence and empathy of a good friend that assists one in journeying through the pain. Whether we get passed up for a promotion, find ourselves in conflict with a family member, or encounter a loss of some sort, it’s the presence of a good friend, or of benevolent social support, during those times that makes all the difference in the world, right? Interestingly enough, recent research from psychologist, Shelly Gable (USC in Santa Barbara), has found that the happiest people are the ones who are present when things go right for others – and whose joys and wins are regularly celebrated by friends, as well. Dr. Gable also found that when romantic partners did not make a big deal out of each other’s successes, the couple is more likely to break up. As it turns out, when couples celebrate each other’s accomplishments, they’re more likely to be satisfied and committed to their relationship. But aside from intimate relationships, why would it be conducive to be genuinely happy for a friend’s success, even in an area in which you yourself may struggle? (For example, your friend gets the promotion after you’ve been turned down numerous times!) The process of discussing positive events with a responsive listener actually changes the memory of the event. So after telling you about it, your friend will recall that night as even more positive that it was. And more importantly, the next time your friend encounters a difficulty, he/she will recall your positive support. So while it may be kind to send a card to your friend when he/she was dumped, you’ll both achieve more satisfaction out of the flowers you send her when she gets that promotion or when he graduates with his medical degree. Happier people are those individuals who actively celebrate others’ successes.