Celebrating other authors’ successes fuels our own
I learned to read fairly early – at age 3-and-a-half or 4 – not because I was particularly precocious, but because I wanted to be able to read the Sunday comics on my own. So I demanded that my dad teach me how to read. Over the years, as the comics have waned in column inches and volume in daily newspapers, my interest in them has simultaneously declined. No longer the first thing I reach for, days can go by without my even seeing a comic strip.
Yesterday, however, I noticed and read the color comics, and this Pearls Before Swine strip caught my attention because it so well captures the human condition – including the attitude of many authors. I’m sure neuroscientists and sociologists and psychologists have studied what it is about human nature that so routinely causes envy rather than celebration when we hear of someone else’s success. And if it’s someone in our field (e.g., a fellow novelist, business coach, financial advisor, or guitar instructor), our envy level is likely to go off the chart!
It’s an abundant universe – someone else’s success does not mean my failure – yet we so often view it that way.
Sometimes aphorisms have their place, and this is certainly one such situation. Even if it may not feel like it in the immediate moment, your fellow author’s self-publishing success is a good thing for you! And it would be much better for you if you could celebrate with him or her than let the green monster consume you.
Reasons to celebrate your fellow author’s success
- Envy is one of the surest causes of self-sabotage, so find a way to be genuinely happy for your successful author friends.
- Being less than happy for others who are succeeding – particularly in the area where you want so badly to do well – inhibits your own chances for success. When you see another person’s win as a success for you, you open the door to hope for your own success.
- Celebrating with others multiplies your opportunities to rejoice. When you are able to congratulate your fellow authors on their successes, you invite them to be willing to celebrate when your book does well.
- When you’re truly happy for others, they are more likely to be truly happy for you. But real relationships invite the sharing of the highs and the lows. You want to develop the habit of empathizing when things are down and rejoicing in the good times.
- The law of attraction teaches us that we manifest that which we focus on – and what we resist persists. So if we resist others’ happiness at the expense of our own, we’re likely to be chasing our own happiness while never really fulfilling it.
But let’s say that you’ve been trying everything and nothing you’re doing to market your book seems to be making any difference. In spite of your best effort, you’re still struggling, and the last thing you can do is be happy for your friend who just got picked up by a sizable publisher. Here are a few things you can do to lift yourself out of your blues so that you can be truly happy for your friend. They’ll take some work, but with effort, you’ll get there.
- We’ve mentioned this one before, but it bears repeating in the #1 spot: Keep a gratitude journal. Recording the things for which you are grateful on a daily basis will help you stay focused on the good stuff and enable you to shrug off any emotion that resembles envy.
- Slow down and meditate. When the jealousy monster threatens to rear its head, take a moment to take a breath. Slow down. Stop. Meditate. Getting clear about the direction you want your emotions to take will enable you to put the envy to bed, if only momentarily.
- Recognize that positive emotions are as contagious as the negative ones. Read the next sentence out loud and with as much gusto as you can muster: BOY, AM I ENTHUSIASTIC! Read it aloud again, this time like you mean it. Say it one more time, with a big smile on your face. I obviously can’t see you, but I’m pretty sure that if you did the little exercise above, you feel better now than before you began reading this post. You have the power to propel positive emotions to the forefront, so why not use it?
- Look for opportunities to celebrate someone else’s success. This may involve gritting your teeth or even facing the envy and doing it anyway. Send a congratulations note. Blog about your friend’s success. Buy an extra copy of their book. If you can find a way to celebrate in spite of the awkward feelings, you’ll get the goodwill flowing, meaning that it will soon be flowing right back to you.
Here’s to celebrating your fellow authors’ success!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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