"Good, the more communicated, more abundant grows."
-John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book V
Who are you going to call? You just got the job. Got into medical school. Found out you're pregnant. Got the "all clear" on your MRI. Or your son got engaged, accepted to Harvard Law, and took a job making six figures.
First I call my husband, then my kids, then my sister & sister-in-law, then my friends. My mom would probably be first on that list if she were still alive. Moms are definitely the guaranteed number one cheer-leading booster squad in your life. After all, your good news is their good news.
But sometimes, at least for me, it can be complicated. Sometimes I have a problem sharing good news. It's hard for me to share good news when I know someone is experiencing their own disappointments. How do you share your pregnancy with a friend who has been trying to get pregnant for months? How do you share your daughter's great job offer with a friend whose daughter moved back home?
And then I've also got my own goofy mishigas (Yiddish for craziness) about divulging my good news. It's a mixture of the fear of the "evil eye" and a crazy aversion to looking like a braggart. As if drawing attention to my own good fortune will tempt fate to throw something terrible my way. Definitely, my mishigas!
And can you be happy and enthusiastic for your friend when your own heart is breaking? It's complicated.
I was reminded of all of this yesterday when I read David J. Pollay's "right on post", called Who Do You Run To? He shares the exhilaration he felt in fifth grade when he broke his school record for the 50 yard dash. He couldn't wait to go home for lunch and share his good news with his mom. His mom pumped him for every detail of his victory. Then they called his dad & he got to share his awesome news all over again. He'll never forget that day. He says, "It was one of the best days of my life."
Back in 2004 Shelly Gable of UCLA and Harry Reis of the University of Rochester published "What Do You Do When Things Go Right? The Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Benefits of Sharing Positive Events" in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
They came up with four ways people respond to someone else's good news.
- Active-Constructive response: They're thrilled, they want to know all the details, "they're almost more happy than I am." And you are so glad you shared your news with them.
- Passive-Constructive response: They're the quiet type. They listen actively, they're happy for you, they're supportive, but you're pretty much going to be giving a monologue. No pumping for details here.
- Active-Destructive response: They're going to give you the down-side of your good news. They'll point out all the possible problems, and remind you that everything good has a bad side. They're really going to take the wind out of your sails.
- Passive-Destructive response: They're not going to give you much attention at all. They'll seem disinterested, or give you the impression they don't really care.
So who do you think you're going to be sharing your good news with? And more importantly, how do you react when your friends and family share their good news with you? Want to be that go-to-person-for-sharing-good-news? Active-Constructive leads the pack.
Having an enthusiastic cheerleader in your life was positively correlated with higher relationship well-being, like improved intimacy, bonding and marital satisfaction.
Personally, I love to hear good news. And anyone who shares their good news with me knows ahead of time they're going to get lots of questions!