How to Be Happy for Others

With the total United States student debt bill growing steadily each year and now stands at a staggering $ 1.5 trillion , Democratic leaders are reportedly contemplating an idea that could offer borrowers some respite from the sometimes devastating student debt burden. duty.

According to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, President-elect Joe Biden can forgive the first $ 50,000 of each borrower’s total debt through a decree within the first 100 days of his term in office. To many without student debt, this sounds like a decent and moral act. For a generation of financially troubled college graduates, many of whom are experiencing the country’s second major economic downturn in less than fifteen years, this will no doubt be cause for celebration.

However, for Damon Linker, columnist for The Week and faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, the news takes a sharply negative tone. In today’s tweet, Linker argues that clearing $ 50,000 from someone’s loan account would infuriate borrowers who had to work hard to pay off their own debt, as well as out-of-college graduates who were never sucked into burgeoning student debt. this country. a crisis.

Aside from being a stupid view and completely unoriginal idea, Linker’s sentiment views the transformative potential of student loan forgiveness only as a political game. But more importantly, his tweet manages to permeate a broader conversation about life that doesn’t even apply to student debt or the Capitol Hill debate: how to be happy for other people.

What prevents people from being happy for others?

To understand how we can be happy for others – even if we do not receive material or emotional benefits from their success – it is probably best to understand what prevents people from showing happiness to others.

Generally, feelings of jealousy can cloud your ability to feel good about other people. “Jealousy is often a defensive strategy fueled by more vulnerable feelings such as worthlessness or feelings of inferiority,” wrote psychotherapist Rachel Noel on the Good Therapy advice forum. If you are feeling bitter or harboring a grudge against a group of people who may be euphoric, it is most likely a more serious psychological problem, such as low self-esteem.

Remove yourself from the equation

You can let others enjoy the good news by removing yourself from the equation. Many people find it difficult to interpret things too personally (I definitely do), but it is very important to understand that someone else’s success is usually never achieved in spite of someone else.

As Psych Central editor-in-chief Sarah Newman writes:

The success of others is not personal. This was not done to spite you. It doesn’t cost anything to take your own desires out of the equation and feel relieved and happy towards the other person. In the end, admitting that others are doing well collects evidence that you are likely to succeed, too.

Recognize that others’ successes can inspire you.

Even if you are jealous of the winner, you can use that feeling as fuel for your personal fire. Dr. Kerry Schofield , co-founder and head of psychometrics at Good & Co., told NBC News how this might work in practice:

Instead of focusing on failure, we can view our friend’s accomplishments as inspiring. If he or she did it, then we can – our time will come! We can take initiative and evaluate how and why our friend was able to succeed, and see if there are ways to apply this knowledge to improve our own lives.

In this sense, the idea that billions of dollars in student debt will disappear on the air can be seen as a precedent pushing for more substantial reform, especially when it comes to wider inequality in the United States.

Try to be more grateful for what you already have.

You are much less likely to be offended by someone’s accomplishments or successes if you are good about what is happening in your own life, or at least you are aware of the benefits you have.

If you are like Linker, who has a good job at Ivy League University and has a national magazine columnist platform, you can try to take these circumstances as your privilege and feel grateful for them. This attitude, at least in theory, can help you realize that people fleeing financial oblivion are cause for joy.

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