I read a story, years ago, about a group of tenant farmers waiting for housing. They were living in squalor and occasionally, someone would be rewarded for their hard work and be moved to a better home. Most people were miserable. There was one man who was different. Every time he heard the news that someone was going to be moved up, he was the first person to enthusiastically offer them help in their move. The author of the story said that he knew that this man would someday get better housing himself, which he did.
Being happy when someone else gets what I want is a big spiritual step. There is something powerful at work when we do this. Celebrating the success of another, opens doors for us in ways that we literally cannot imagine. I want to cite you many examples from my personal life where this has happened, but cannot, because I didn’t really know about this powerful tool (ok, that might be a tiny cop-out) or practice it much (more truthful!) until a couple of years ago. The times that I have had the presence of mind to do it (not just give it lip-service but really work on feeling gratitude for the good fortune of another that I myself have been waiting for) have been life-changing.
There is one thing that I can say without hesitation. If someone suddenly gets the very thing that I desire, that thing is close to happening for me too. My attitude will determine which way it turns; toward me or away. When I feel bad that I don’t yet have what I want/need/desire, I am actually repelling it energetically. When I can share in the feeling of happiness and celebration for others, I “own” a tiny piece of their success too, and that sets up something almost like an internal magnet for a similar experience to come to me.
Below is a great story from a collection of writings by Emmet Fox who lived from 1886-1951.
CUT MY OWN THROAT!
“A man came to see me in London in great distress. He had attended some lectures I gave, and wanted advice. He was the owner of a general grocery store in a village in the south of England, and hitherto there had been no competition. Now, one of the big chain stores was opening a branch almost opposite to him in the main street, and he was in a panic.
He said, “How can I compete with them? I am ruined.” I said, “You know the Great Law. You know where your supply comes from. Why be afraid?” He said, “I must do something.”
I said, “Stand in your shop each morning and bless it, by claiming that divine Power works through it for great prosperity and peace for all concerned.” He nodded his head in agreement. I added, “Then look down the street to where they are fitting up the new store, and bless that in the same way.”
“What? Cut my own throat?” he almost screamed.
I explained that what blesses one, blesses all. I told him that he was really hating his competitor (through fear) and that his hatred would destroy him, while blessing the “enemy” was the way to get rid of hate. I finished by saying, “You cannot cut your throat with prayer; you can only improve everything.”
It took some time to persuade him, but at last he got the idea, and when I met him several years later he told me that his business had been better than ever since the chain store appeared; and that it seemed to be getting on well too. This is what Jesus meant when he said, Love your enemies (Luke 6:27).”