One of the saddest and most inexplicable things that I see in this world is the inability to be happy for the good fortune of others.
Sometimes it's a large bit of good fortune. A friend's early retirement. A sister-in-law's pregnancy. A colleague's promotion. A friend's wedding proposal.
But more often, it's the small things that I fail to understand.
- You're trapped in an endless meeting that a colleague has managed to avoid through accident or subterfuge.
- A teacher or professor has failed to notice that a fellow classmate didn't turn in an assignment and has inadvertently given her credit for completing it.
- A golf ball is launched into the trees but somehow ricochets out onto the fairway.
- You are pulled over and ticketed for speeding by the police while the friend who you were following manages to drive by undetected.
- A coworker at the same level as you and being paid commensurately is not required to complete an assignment that you consider onerous.
In situations like these, the instinct is often to become angry at the injustice and unfairness of the world. I've actually seen people attempt to mitigate the good fortune of others in order to achieve greater equity.
But why not simply be happy for the person's good luck or clever maneuver or strategic bit of thinking? It's so much easier. Such a better and happier way to live.
In the spirit of being happy for the good fortune and strategic thinking of others, I offer you this:
At a recent concert in Chicago, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong noticed a kid in the audience holding a sign saying “I can play every song on Dookie” and pulled him up on stage to prove it.
I am so happy for this guy. I couldn't stop smiling as I watched.