Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. I came across the word when I was reading a very insightful article on ‘The Hindu‘ in Chennai. The article is here and is a take on ‘India as the land of opportunity’ from the eyes of someone who has resided in the US for the past 21 years.
The article and the insight aside, I often ask myself as to why it is the case that Schadenfreude is so prevalent. A friend of mine once reasoned that he felt that humans hadn’t evolved enough from monkeys and it would probably be natural for monkeys to laugh at one that’s slipped and fallen.
I often wonder if that is the case. Sometimes I feel this is a disease that’s prevalent ONLY among human beings!
In my case, I’ve had a tough time fighting the beast – which is generally the root of envy and jealousy. Given my huge insecurities while in my teenage, I found it VERY hard to digest a friend’s success. Any known person’s success seemed to speak to me and challenge my own abilities. I felt everything I knew (those were the days when I though I knew a lot of course..haha) or had should be kept within myself/not be shared. This was not helped by break neck competition in all the schools I studied at, of course.
And it was in the beginning of last year that I decided I was going to fight this! It already promised to be a testing period with the end-of-student-life job hunt threatening to expose these insecurities and bring them to the fore. Having been inspired by Covey’s suggestion to adopt an ‘Abundance mentality’ i.e. where you genuinely believe there is enough out there for anybody, I decided I’d finally get to working on this beast.
I did – I started giving more, complimenting people around me more, sharing job resources with friends, making an effort to add value to people and tried to look at it as my own duty to make others successful. And I guess it is testimony to that when a close friend wrote in said he appreciated the constant giving without expectation.
Well, it feels great now – a good 1 year later. That’s not to say I’m completely ‘cured’. There are still those times when I find myself stuck in self doubt for a few moments when I hear of an unexpected success from elsewhere. But, this time, I do know that that’s how long it will last – a few moments, that’s all.
Now it’s over to other battles like learning to be positive and energetic every single day.
We are makers of our own destiny after all.