Cultivating Skillful Means

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Sympathetic joy — the antidote to envy

Rejoicing in the good fortune of others is one sure way to avoid the constricted self-centered view that so easily ends in destructive states such as afflictive emotions.

When others succeed or have good fortune, do you rejoice in their fortunes or do you feel envious? Think of a situation in which a friend received something and you felt jealous. Reflect on how such jealousy can be the root of many afflictive emotions — hatred, anger, despair... Reflect on how appreciating their good fortune can transform afflictive emotions into love, compassion and joy.

This practice extends to voicing our pleasure and respect for another's success, including encouraging them with praise.

Can you distinguish between genuine praise and flattery when you're the deliverer? How about when you're the recipient? Can looking at the difference between appreciating another's generosity and becoming puffed up and self-important help you when you're responding to another's success?