Compersion, Compassion and the End of Envy.
“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”
- Hair care commercial circa 1980
I was in Santa Monica this week, in my own kind of nana-nirvana, enjoying the ocean. A girl—maybe 15 years old—came dancing down the boardwalk in silver shorts, her hightops painted with haphazard rainbows, her skin and muscles flawless and strong; dipping and spinning, pure kinetic joy.
For one brief moment, I am her. Then: No. Wait. I am not her—she is completely unique. Rather, I am FOR her. I am a witness, taking joy in her joy, anonymously loving this girl-woman in her power. She is singing a unique song of herself, and those of us on nearby benches are here to celebrate her, to whoop and clap and take her in as she passes by.
The great storyteller Michael Meade talks about how each one of us is here to express our unique genius. Our creative seed is planted on the Earth and will bloom at the right time, in the right way, for each of us. In a healthy culture, when the moment of a person’s genius arises, no matter their age or domain, it is the community’s job to support them as they offer the fruit of their soul. Not to throw up barriers; not to express envy; not to let the cynical or the judgmental in us win the moment. Not to let our nihilism make us shrug our shoulders and ignore this magic that has appeared among us. And especially not to use the other person’s moment of magnificence as yet another way to bludgeon ourselves in comparison.
The word “compersion” is often used to describe the happiness you feel when someone you love is happy in turn—even if you’re not included. If your friend, for example, wins an Academy Award, so in a way do you: She is simply another face of the divine, looking through a different pair of eyes. If she is experiencing something amazing, you are as well.
Still, jealousy and envy are known to happen. So if envy does come up, we don’t judge it—we greet it. Maybe it’s a sign post. Maybe it has something to say to us. We ask: “Hey, envy, what do you have to tell me?” It might be telling you this is an opportunity for you to seek out your own inspiration.
I have noticed that the most supportive people in my life are the people who are living their lives on purpose, with joy in their own dance. When I am doing me—when I’m not in doubt about what and why I do what I do—it feels much easier to be supportive of others when their own genius fruits.
What if we made an active choice not to limit our compersion to people we know closely, but to feel a more expansive compersion? Every time we see someone shine we lift them up with our words, and feel joy with them. Not only do we give people safe passage through our minds and hearts, we lend our hands to lift and help, our mouths to speak supportive words, and our eyes to witness them as they shine.
It’s easy to tear down. Good sisters think differently. We give each other all the props. We help each other plant their creative seed. We rally to see what fruit each plant will bear, what its unique taste and beauty will be like.