I'm (not) Happy for You

Have you ever wondered how happy people are when they say, “I’m so happy for you” after you’ve shared something positive with them? What makes people happy for one another? How do you know if they mean it? Or, do you mean it when YOU say it?


Here’s a story that I think could illustrate what I’m getting at:


I usually keep to myself at work. For about four years now, there has been a teacher in the music department that consistently waves “hello” and “goodbye”. He’s always seemed like a great guy, and I hate to admit it, but I’ve never made an effort to find out my colleague’s name even though he would always greet me by name.  


Now, I normally just get kids knocking on my office door to ask what’s on the schedule for P.E., kids who knock on my door to tattle tale on other kids, or kids who just want a basketball pumped with air. But a few weeks before my wedding day, this colleague of mine knocked unexpectedly on my office door.


“Fredy! I just got the invitation for your wedding shower. I didn’t know that you were engaged! When’s the big day?” He said.


“February 1st,” I replied. It was about a week away.


“Wow! That’s great Fredy. I won’t be able to make it to the shower but I do hope that you have a wonderful wedding day,”


Before I could thank him he asked me how long I had known my fiancée, how long we’d been together, and asked me for her name. He wasn’t being intrusive at all, in fact I felt like he was eager and I enthusiastically answered those questions with joy.


“Congratulations Fredy. I’m so happy for you. I wish you two the absolute best on your wedding day.” And with that, he left.


I felt a little crumby about never really going out of my way to learn his name, so I made it a point to learn it. It was the least I could do considering how nice he was to me.


Several weeks after my return from the honeymoon, as I was settling in my office someone knocked on my door.


“Hey Fredy, you’re back!”


I immediately recognized the voice by the enthusiasm in his tone. It was the music teacher.


“Hey  . . . man,” was all I could say, considering I still had not learned his name. “I’m back!” I said.


He asked me how the wedding was and what I enjoyed most about it. As I told him in details of how great it all was and how much I was loving the married life his smile grew wider and bigger.


He looked at me and said, “I am so happy for you. I wish you and your wife the best. It looks like she makes you happy and that makes me extremely happy. I’m excited to see you grow in this next chapter of your life.”


It felt so sincere. It felt real. I had gotten plenty of people telling me how happy they were for me but this man, whom I hardly talk to, showed me with his interest how happy he was for my happiness.


As he was walking away to teach his class I just had to ask: “Thank you for your sweet words. You’re so kind. I’d like to know though, why are you so nice about this? Why are you happy for me?”


He smiled for a bit and then he gave me this powerful revelation.


“Fredy, I’ve been married for 30 years. And when you have a good marriage, you get happy for those that are getting married. I know how beautiful, how wonderful it is to be married. I’m happy that you’re going to experience that now.”


Those words were profoundly moving.


You know, I have heard the phrase  “I’m so happy for you” used so many times. It usually happens after we share good news, yet I feel that sometimes people could abuse that term and just say it because it’s the polite thing to say.


What happens when someone says it to you and you know, that that person isn’t at all happy for you?


Or what about the times that you’ve said it automatically, without feeling, to a friend or a relative when you felt the complete opposite of happy?


When people aren’t secure with who they are it’s because they aren’t really valuing the right things. For example, someone tells you about their exciting new job that comes with perks, awesome colleagues, and a higher salary. If you don’t have that in your life then you tend to covet, rather then genuinely congratulate and celebrate this beautiful moment in someone else’s life.


You examine your state of being with what you have in comparison to others. Placing value on objects of resource or vanity will always place you in competition with people and it is a race that you will never win.


There will always be someone that has more of what you like. The key is to make the most of what you have.


If you determine your worth by what you drive, the kind of watch you have on your wrist, or the brand of clothes you wear than you have reduced yourself to be objectified by people who won’t value you. They’ll just value you because of what you look like or what you have. When you do that, it is almost impossible to be happy for other people because objects and vanity are now the standard by which you judge others.


This man was happily married and because he was happy, content, and satisfied with his relationship, he was happy for me. So the formula is simple: when you’re happy with who you are then you are happy for those that attain the same thing as you or surpass you.


The same is true of the opposite: If you’re not happy with what you have you won’t be happy for those that do have it.


It’s easy to know who those people are right? It’s those girls that get bitter when those around them get engaged. Or it’s those guys that question another man’s integrity just because they gained a little success. That is selfish behavior.



If selfishness is the key to being miserable, then selflessness must be the key to being happy! – Joyce Meyer



One sure way of knowing if someone is happy for you is if they use the word ‘but’ immediately after. Kind of like how Kanye West did it to Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards.


Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time…one of the best videos of all time!”


Don’t be like Kanye.


When you use the word ‘but’ after a congratulatory “I’m happy for you” then you’ve exposed your unhappiness with the whole situation. You’ve dismissed their accomplishment because you are offended.


Get to know yourself and when you’re secure with who you are then you’ll find pleasure in the things around you. I’m not saying me complacent. No, never that. I’m saying be content and happy.


Sometimes things don’t swing your way. That’s ok. It’s not the end of the world. Have faith and work hard. I’m sure we all know someone who seems to always do better than us, thus they make sure we know how fun it is to be them. Good for them! Now instead of focusing on your wounded pride, focus on your faith and work harder.


Being happy for others when things don’t go your way is hard for many of you but it isn’t impossible. Trust me when I tell you that if you stop competing and become selfless then you will enjoy more out of life. There is security in that.


Here’s an exercise for you: Call/email/text 3 people and tell them why you’re genuinely happy for them. Then pass this post to them as well if you find it worthwhile.


Thanks for reading this again. I pray that as you finish this that you would just be thankful for life.


P.S. I finally learned the gentleman’s name. It is Steve Ravioli. Pretty unique huh? I’ll never forget it. 

 This Steve Ravioli, his wife of 30 years, and I. I was happy. 

This Steve Ravioli, his wife of 30 years, and I. I was happy.