When We Are Happy For Others

I am happy for you. Powerful words, right?

And my two favorite variations: I am so pleased for you (a bit more cautious). I am thrilled for you (yes, over the top).

When something good happens to a colleague or a friend, we tend to say Congratulations. We may even send a congratulatory note. Nice. But I am happy for you elevates the well-wishing. It puts ME into the congratulatory expression. And it gives the other person the gift of MY supportive emotion. An instant relationship enhancer.

Language matters. “People with impoverished vocabularies,” Tony Robbins writes in my favorite little book of his, Giant Steps, “live emotionally impoverished lives.” Yup.

I used to not say I am happy for you because I didn’t know how to be truly happy for you. And I didn’t know how to say it.

Sad, yes. I think of this as I dine with my friend Mark Johnson. While we gorge on heaps of tantalizing sushi, our conversation takes us on a trip down memory lane, to a time when we both lived in the same cities but our paths had not yet crossed. It is one of those delicious conversations in which one discovers new things about a friend.

And new things about oneself.

I used to not know how to say it. And I couldn’t say it because I didn’t feel it.

When I feel happy for you I, of course, feel happy for myself.

My friend and former neighbor, Emunah Herzog, left Hollywood for marriage and a quieter life in West Virginia. During a phone call we catch up on all that has happened in our lives over the span of two years. It has been a good ride in my neck of the woods.

I am so happy for you, Emunah says. Sweet.

My business relationships are so much better now than they were back then. I have learned to be happy for others. And the happiness is expressed. The path is simple.

  1. Shift out of neutral.

  2. Take an emotional risk.

  3. To take the risk, you gotta feel it first.

  4. Because fake-happy doesn’t work.

Congratulations is nice. And it is neutral. Shift to the happy-for-others place. Feel it. Say it. I am happy for you.

Experience the impact of supportive emotional language.

Reap the rewards of heartfelt good will.

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