• Debbie Covino, PhD

Bad Thought: I envy my sister.

A recent client--I’ll call her Lupe--was struggling with negative feelings toward her sister, Elena. Lupe had recently suffered a bad break-up with a years-long boyfriend, while Elena (5 years younger than Lupe) was about to be married. The sisters had had an uneasy relationship since childhood, though they’d been able to put their differences aside as adults and be mutually supportive. Lupe knew that she should be able to be happy for her sister, but the green-eyed monster had gotten the better of her and she’s been avoiding her sister’s company so that she didn’t have to hear about wedding plans and honeymoon excursions.


I knew that, under the circumstances, asking Lupe to be happy for her sister would probably be too much, but I thought I’d take a stab at telling her about a recent article I came across in Greater Good Magazine that discusses the notion of “sympathetic joy,” which means taking pleasure in someone’s else’s good fortune or happiness. The carrot here is that sympathetic joy or positive empathy activates the reward centers of the brain, which enhances the release of the pleasure-producing neurotransmitter, dopamine. Surely that feels better than envy, I told Lupe. Never mind that Lupe’s largesse would lead to a better relationship with Elena.


Here's the brief article in case you’d like more details: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_is_sympathetic_joy_and_how_can_you_feel_more_of_it


I haven’t yet gotten an update from Lupe, but here’s to hoping that she’s reconnected with Elena and is looking forward to dress shopping.



You're reading the Bad Thoughts Blog, which maintains that feeling good is as simple as thinking a better thought. I'm Debbie Covino, hypnotherapist, coach, and creator of the Master Your Own Mind self-hypnosis audio program and the All Day Hypnosis audio courses, available at https://www.hypnotic-wellbeing.com/digital-audio-programs


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