Sympathetic Joy: Genuine Happiness for Others

By Rachel Puryear

A recent post discussed a key trait of toxic people – the inability of toxic people to be genuinely happy for others, and also constantly resenting others’ good fortune while lacking gratitude for one’s own good fortune.

There is a trait which is the opposite of such toxic resentment and jealousy, however; and people who are loving and emotionally generous normally possess it abundantly – it’s called sympathetic joy. Generously possessing sympathetic joy is also a key trait of empaths.

What is Sympathetic Joy?

Several hands placed together on a log.

Sympathetic joy is about being genuinely happy for others – even where others’ good fortune does not directly benefit you. It is truly celebrating others’ accomplishments and milestones, without the sentiment originating in self-interest.

We can be happy for someone else because of a new relationship, a pregnancy, a career advancement, successfully finishing school, a successful new business, recovering from an illness, reaching a fitness goal, and so much more. If we truly love someone; then when they feel good, we also feel good.

Of course, let’s be realistic. Sometimes other people’s happiness and accomplishments come when we’re simultaneously down on our own luck, and feeling poorly about ourselves. In that case, it can be bittersweet; and even downright hard to celebrate someone else’s new relationship for someone who just broke up or is on the verge of such, or for someone struggling with infertility to celebrate someone else’s pregnancy, for someone who had to drop out to celebrate someone else’s graduation, for someone getting sicker or watching a loved one get sicker to celebrate someone else’s recovery, for someone who just lost their job or who is struggling to celebrate someone else’s promotion; and so forth. There is no denying how emotionally conflicted such situations can feel.

This is where incredible emotional generosity comes in – in being happy for someone else we love, even when they are doing better than we ourselves are. If you can be genuinely happy for someone else even during your own struggles, then you are undoubtedly an emotionally generous individual – and, likely, also an empath.

That’s not to say that you can’t still feel bad about your own circumstances, and wish they were better – that’s totally normal. Nonetheless, finding it within yourself to still be happy for others is a great show of love – and, hopefully, one that they will also return for you when your respective situations are reversed.

Then, when the time comes; you will totally deserve to have others feel good about your success, and be as happy for yours as you are for theirs.


Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to feeling good about others’ success, and them also feeling good about yours. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you do not do so already. xoxo

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