I love good words. What do I mean by “good words”? I mean those words that (usually from other languages) that convey something that, in translation, requires 2-3 sentences to try to explain what it means. One word that I learned a few years ago is a german word, schadenfreude, which means essentially “to take pleasure in the misfortune of others.” I’ll admit that I have used that more than a few times, especially those moments when someone flies by you on a road and then a mile or so later you see them pulled over by a police officer…But I digress. A few days ago, I learned another word that is pretty much the opposite of schadenfreude. The word is comes from the Pali and Sanskrit languages…
It was part of my daily meditation app on Easter morning. It speaks to taking pleasure in the accomplishments, joys, successes, and well-being of others.
What a beautiful idea and what beauty would come if we would live with more mudita (not sure I am using it grammatically correct, but that’s life) and much less schadenfreude. But that’s not really the case is it? We take a lot of pleasure in the misfortunes of others, don’t we? Just look at reality television – how much of it is focused on schadenfreude? Most of it, I think.
When I read the Bible, I don’t see one instance of God taking joy in the misfortunes of God’s creation. We don’t read about Jesus taking joy even in the times when he had to say tough words to those who opposed his message. Instead, we see the opposite – we see God takes delight in our delight.
So on this Easter Monday, how can you live with mudita rather than schadenfreude?