Why Most People In Your Life Are Only Pretending To Be Happy For You

by Paul Hudson

It isn’t difficult to make the argument that New York City is the best city in the world. There’s so much to do and so much to see, so many people and so many opportunities. New York is the place for dreams to come to fruition. When you’re here, you are in the middle of everything. Design, law, medical, arts, banking, tech -- you name it, all the industries are here and flourishing.

People come to New York to make something of themselves, to follow their dreams, to succeed. If it can happy anywhere, it can happen in NYC. However, this does mean that the competition here isn't very strong -- one might even say brutal. New York can give you anything you want, but only if you are willing to work for it harder and smarter than everyone else gunning for the same thing. Thankfully, competition is healthy. Unfortunately, your competition doesn’t always make the best of friends.

Although, in theory, it is possible for everyone to succeed, not everyone does. More over, the people who do succeed don’t succeed at the same exact time. There will almost certainly be a gap of years between your success and that of your friends. We can say that we will be happy to see our friends do well for themselves and acquire great achievement, but the fact of the matter is that we all get a little jealous.

When you see someone else succeed, you are reminded of your lack of success. It’s silly, but human beings usually prefer seeing people worse off than they are because it makes them feel that they aren’t doing so bad for themselves. We are all competitive by nature and knowing that we are not in last place is more comforting than being reminded of how far behind we are.

Of course, there will be some people in your life that will truly be happy for you when you succeed, but I am afraid that it won’t be most of your friends -- only, possibly, your parents. Maybe some friends who aren’t competitive or driven will also be supportive. I don’t keep such company, but undoubtedly some of you do. Everyone else will vary in how much they loathe you for beating them to the so-called finish line. Those closer to you will do their best to hide their unhappiness and jealousy, while others will try to put you down and point out flaws or reasons the success won’t last. This sort of behavior is easiest to see when in a large, densely populated city, like New York.

Everyone who moves here wants to make it big in one way or another. These people are undoubtedly brewing high hopes and arriving with a head full of dreams. As time goes on, most people begin to notice that making your dreams come true isn’t as easy as previously thought. It takes a lot of hard work, focus, sacrifice and a bit of luck. In large part, success is a waiting game. It’s those who are patient and diligent enough to stay in the game that end up on top.

Sadly, pursuing your dreams involves a lot of downs before ups. So seeing other people make it, even if they’re your friends, feels like a slight kick to the gut that intensifies depending on how down you are. The worse your situation and the worse your luck, the more it’s going to hurt seeing people around you accomplish that which you set out to accomplish yourself.

No one wants to talk about this because if we consider ourselves to be good friends, we feel guilty for feeling the way we do. We understand that we should be happy for our friends, and the fact is that we are happy… but we also sort of hate them for being able to do what we still haven’t managed.

Such behavior is easily noticed in New York because New York is a place where you make few friends and lots of acquaintances. Acquaintances in New York are easily made and also have this tendency of forcing artificial friendship; people address you like an old friend, but in reality, don’t really give a sh*t about you one way or another.

It’s these people that find it the hardest to hide their disappointment in your happiness because they don’t really care whether or not you remain "friends." That is, unless they now think they can use your newfound success to their own advantage. Again, however, they're not happy for you; they’re happy to know you so they can now exploit you.

Understanding this and keeping this in mind will come in handy. Firstly, it will allow you to differentiate between the people who are actually your friends and those who aren’t better. It will teach you about the people around you and give you great information on how they think, what they want, the way they perceive themselves and their self-control, or lack of.

Secondly, if you know your good friends are not especially happy with their own lives, it may be wiser not to flaunt your success so much. Sure, when you succeed in something grand, all you want to do is talk about it, share it with your friends and bathe in the glow for as long as you can. However, if you know your friend is having a difficult time, that he or she is likely to be jealous or bummed out for your success, then you may want to take one for the team and find a way to boost his or her confidence instead of boast about your achievements.

Photo credit: HBO