How to be Happy for Other People’s Success

it's okay to feel like Cain

it's okay to feel like Cain

The conceptual antidote to jealously.


If you’re the kind of person who finds it difficult to be happy for other people’s success, that’s understandable yet stupid. Here are six truths that will help you see the error of your jealously.

Success isn’t zero sum

It’s our proclivity to see the success of another as an impediment to our own success. That’s how it works in the animal kingdom—one lion must lose for another to win. So we blindly assume that’s how it works for us. Though if humans were lions, we’d build an antelope factory that would require lions from different prides working together to operate it.

Take a step back and think: if another’s success truly does get in your way, then it would be best for you to live in a society of losers. But you don’t want to live in a society of losers, otherwise you would move to Mexico to advance your career. Instead, you move to a place with the highest concentration of winners, because that's what Western civilization is.

It’s good to be associated with successful people

It’s common to feel jealous for a friend or family member’s success. And the closer the successful person is to us, the more likely we are to feel jealous. Cain and Abel, and so forth. However, the next best thing to being successful is being affiliated with someone who is successful. If your brother is a millionaire, then you’re a millionaire by proxy. This is at least the way people will see you.

Success is inspiring

We’ve all seen too many Coen brothers movies so we forget that successful stories are inspiring. Let others’ success make you feel better—let success demonstrate what’s possible for you. Success is archetypal, not situational.

You look insecure

When you’re bitter toward the success of others, people will tell you you’re an asshole. But they’re just being nice. You’re not an asshole—you’re insecure, which is the beta male version of being an asshole.

Have a life

It’s natural to be happy for others’ success when you have your own thing going on. If you ever do feel jelly, take that as a sign it’s time to put the bong down and make something happen.

Success is a lesson

We’re often told we learn more from failure than success. This is a lie to make failures feel better about themselves. The truth is that success teaches us a lot; there are a million ways to fail but only a few ways to succeed. Other peoples’ success teaches us a lot, too. If somebody else is a success and you’re not, there are volumes of information in that. Don’t be blind to it just because you’d rather rationalize your failure.


Being happy for others’ success is often associated with blind optimism, as if it’s only possible to be happy for others if you’ve read too many self-help books. But being happy for somebody else has nothing to do with being blind to reality, and has everything to do with seeing reality for what it is.