We say this all the time- to our partners, our parents, our friends and even our enemies.
But are you really happy for them? Or just jealous and this is a nicer way of saying it?
And quite frankly, to paraphrase Seinfeld- I’m happy for you, but what is it really doing for me?
But you can’t not say it can you?
You are expected to be happy for the newly engaged/newly pregnant/new home owners/new job getters even if a) you don’t want these things for yourself and/or b) your life is really shite at the moment.
So you smile, and say it, even though on the inside you are mentally taking a journey on what the implications of this news is for you.
Sure, I’m happy if my friends are happy, but how do you know if someone is really happy?
I guess you can only go on what people tell you and hope they are being honest with themselves and with you.
So, what is happiness?
Wikipedia states that it is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources.
The one I remember from high school Society and Culture studies is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Needs are psychological (physical bodily needs), safety, social (love and belonging), esteem (respect) and self-actualisation (values and morals).
So maybe by saying “I’m happy for you” we are actually performing an act of esteem by being respectful of others.
And really, there’s nothing wrong with that I suppose? If respect is returned to fulfil your needs. Or is that an ultimately selfish notion?
Ok, we got a bit deep there! Just be happy I say and the rest will follow.