Since I am not a psychiatrist I don’t know what these personality traits are called, why they exist, how they can be altered or if people easily recognize them when they have them. Maybe it’s straight up jealousy and part of being human. If I fall into the tougher of the 2 categories myself, it is my hope that a friend would tell me and that I would be open and appreciative of the feedback. Please share your thoughts on how you have approached these when you witness them yourself. Let me try to explain it to you by describing what seems like 3 categories of people. There are likely more.
Let’s say you are on Facebook going through our new favorite pastime of “hitting the like” button; the Wagner’s posted 400 pictures of their amazing family vacation, Bill and Emily just bought a new boat, Crystal is pregnant with her first kiddo, Stacie and Kyle’s son Adam just got straight A’s. All things worth hitting the like button. Some people I know will do exactly that – they “like” it, share it, talk about it, smile (not by putting an emoji, but actually doing that thing with their face where the ends of their mouth curls up). Then they move on with their day, happy about their friends happiness.
Seek these people out – they are great to be around, genuine, happy with their own life and therefore can be genuinely happy with other people’s lives. My personal goal to get closer and closer to being one of these people myself.
The next collection of people, category 2, are what I think have historically been labeled “The Joneses”. When they run into Stacie at the grocery store, they immediately grab the trophy that their daughter won in soccer – they have it in their purse. Thinking to themselves, ‘so what if your precious Adam got straight A’s, Kayla is likely going to get a full athletic scholarship for soccer. Here’s her trophy from the U8 team she’s on that proves it’. Your friend might be genuinely happy for you and for Adam, but not so much so to be outdone. Whatever Adam does, Kayla is always going to be a little bit better.
Category 3 is a tough one because it seems like a sad place to live. You and your friend are talking about the fact that Bill and Emily just bought that new boat they’ve been wanting. Saved every penny for 2 years, they have no kids and want to travel the coast next summer. You and your friend look at each other and smile, but you can tell that your friend doesn’t seem genuinely happy, “Must be nice to not have to worry about expenses like college. Can you believe they’re going around bragging about it to everyone?” No sooner do the words leave your friends lips then Bill walks in. “OMG, congratulations on the new boat Bill, you and Emily must be so excited – when do you set sail?” Well that was pretty fake you think to yourself. This is the person who would have liked it on Facebook, but secretly wants the boat to sink. While sitting at your desk you’re a bit deflated that Bill may have associated you with the negative, disingenuous comment from your friend. A friend, mind you, who isn’t interested in buying a boat themselves, never owned a boat, doesn’t even care for the water – they are just really pissed that someone else gets to have one and is likely going to have a lot of fun while on it.
In the recruitment industry, we hear a lot about successes – promotions, job offers, salary increases, bonuses, awards and the like. It can be a very rewarding industry in so many ways. Though not a psychiatrist, as stated in the beginning, it seems that me and my colleagues play one fairly frequently. Whether it is to support one another during the ups and downs of the profession we have chosen or, more often, providing support for those we work with day in and day out. When others announce they had a huge success, how do you react? Are you genuinely for them? Are you thinking about how much more successful you are? Or are you secretly (or even openly) hoping for their demotion, termination or failed attempt to land the new job?
No matter your own place in life today, my hope is that we can all unite around a common goal of being more genuinely happy for our fellow human. Celebrate each other’s successes and come to someone’s aid when they need our help. My great friend @DanTyre is one of the most positive people I know – he runs everywhere he goes, smiles at everyone he sees and is on singular mission to “do as much good in the world as he can in the next 30 years”, he has always been this way. Find people like Dan to hang out with. He’s one of those people who wants YOU to have everything that life can offer you. He is happy when you are happy. Sincerely.