I remember walking into a party shortly after I learned that my book was going to be published. The party was full of people I hold near and dear to my heart and I couldn’t wait to share my excitement with them. And I remember one particular person who filled my heart with joy because she shared my excitement. And, I remember many who didn’t…
Have you ever been super duper excited about something, so excited that you couldn’t wait to tell someone you love about it? And in a monotone voice they respond, “Oh cool,” and then promptly change the subject?
How did you feel? Deflated? Sad? Not nearly as excited anymore? Did your shoulders drop as you looked off, wishing with all your heart that this person you love shared just a little bit of your excitement?
Me too. And, I bet I have done the same thing to people I love. It’s because we don’t recognize that empathy isn’t just for the bad times; it is just as important to show people empathy during the good times. According to Google, empathy means to “understand and share the feelings of another,” it doesn’t qualify those feelings to just bad feelings. As Brené Brown teaches us, we need to feel with each other, not just through the sorrows but through the good times too.
As I was chatting about this idea with a couple friends, we paused to consider why someone might not share our excitement. Maybe they were anxious to share their own exciting thing with us, or maybe they were emotionally drained. Or, maybe they are apprehensive in general to ask questions to continue conversations because of their introvertive nature. Maybe they really did share our joy, but just couldn’t express it in the moment.
However, could an awareness of the need to show empathy during the good times help us support each other better? I think so and have challenged myself to become more aware of the joys of the people around me these past couple months. When people I love get to take amazing trips, or when they have an exciting job change, or when they finally find that perfect dress for their event..from big joys to small joys, I have been trying to do a better job of feeling that joy with the people I care about. And I see their eyes light up when I do.
I wrote about three “don’ts” of empathy in The Path to Serendipity. Let’s see if they apply to the good times just as well as they apply to the bad times.
- Don’t put yourself in their shoes. Let them keep their shoes on their own feet. People may find joy in something you would never want to do, but it doesn’t matter how you feel about it. It matters how they feel about it. Feel with them, not as if you were them.
- Don’t kick people when they are
downup. So often we fear others’ success. When someone is feeling excited about something, we might be inclined to bring them down a couple notches in order to help ourselves feel better. There is enough success and joy and excitement to go around for all of us. Let’s not try to steal joy from another, instead let’s give each other joy.
- Don’t assume you know how to help. People we care about may need our help during the good times too. Sometimes exciting things can be overwhelming, especially if they are new or big changes. Don’t assume you know how to help, ask those four very important words, “How can I help?”
“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”
Let’s heed the call to action from Maya Angelou and have the courage to display empathy during the great joys the people we care about experience, as well as during the great challenges of life. Let’s share joy and give joy freely, and be ever so cautious not to steal joy, even inadvertently. We need not steal joy, we can make our own for free.
Featured image source: HERE