Schadenfreude: The Lazy Mans Method of Feeling Good

Bean and Teddy

Bean and Teddy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yay for  Rarasaur, it’s Episode Three of Prompts for the Promptless :

Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.

Okay! Time to laugh at all the bad shit that happens to other people!  I know, that’s not very nice, is it?   It’s an unfortunate human emotion and one that I like to think I rarely experience – but of course you won’t believe me if I tell you that, so I guess I’ll go with the truth instead.


Here Are Some of My Own Personal Instances of Schadenfreude:

1.  Watching Mr. Bean.  Because, let’s face it, who has more misfortunes than this poor guy?  He’s a walking disaster.  And yet his misadventures and crazy debacles never fail to make me laugh.  He’s a moron with bad luck.  I don’t know why that’s funny, it just is.

2.  Proving an arrogant know-it-all wrong.  The key word here is arrogant.  Some know-it-alls are very humble and don’t feel the need to convince everyone around them of their brilliance.  It’s the ones who are blatantly deluded about their superior intelligence having some of the arrogance knocked out of them so that they must admit to not actually knowing everything after all, that afford me some kind of smug satisfaction.  I guess you could call that pleasure, however fleeting.

3.  Driving by a speeder who has been pulled over by the cops.  HA!  YES!  And now you’re even MORE late, you jerk.  You could have killed somebody.  And I’m also very happy it’s you and not me who got caught.

4.  Watching a hockey game where the Oilers win.  This one happens so rarely, perhaps I can be forgiven for thumbing my nose at the other team.

5.  Witnessing Karma first hand.  Seeing someone who has been mean and vindictive and just plain nasty have her actions come back to bite her in the ass.  Okay, we seem to have come back full circle to smug satisfaction once again.  I am a horrible person.

Instances In Which I Don’t Understand the Schadenfreude of Others:

Larry and Joe Besser, as "The Original Tw...

Larry and Joe Besser, as “The Original Two-Man Quartet,” serenade Moe in the 1957 short Guns a Poppin!. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1.  Funniest Home Videos on tv.  This is the worst show ever.  I can watch the whole thing without once cracking a smile.  If I don’t leave the room in disgust first.  Because in most of these ‘funny’ shots some poor sod barely avoids serious injury and maiming being an idiot on a trampoline or a skateboard or flying off a slippery dock.  I don’t get how near death experiences are entertaining.

2.  Traumatic things happening in the lives of celebrities.  I wonder why we care so much about the rich and famous, and why we are expected to take such delight in the fact that things can go wrong for them.  And why we’re so obsessed with their weight gains and losses.

3.  The Three Stooges, and slapstick in general.  Getting bonked over the head or slapped or kicked or being made to fall flat on your face or your butt is all stuff that I don’t find particularly funny.  Also violence in cartoons.  I want to cry for Wylie Coyote.

4.  Bullying.  What strange satisfaction does a bully experience by inflicting pain?  When there is no self-regard, there is no regard for others.  How incredibly sad, if this is the only way a person can experience pleasure.

5.  Internet Trolls.  Posting inflammatory, derogatory messages, purely for the purpose of eliciting an emotional response.  I don’t understand how creating unnecessary drama and feelings of outrage in others can give the instigator pleasure.  How desperate does someone have to be for attention to stoop so low?

Most feelings of Schadenfreude are probably accompanied with a great sigh of relief because whatever misfortune someone else suffered has not happened to us.  It’s not that we’re joyful about it, so much as satisfied and complacent and feeling lucky to have been spared the same disaster.

It’s not a lasting pleasure simply because feeling it usually exposes our own lack of self-esteem.  Someone else has to be worse off than we are for us to feel good about ourselves.  Much better to work on the opposite of Schadenfreude, which is Mudita, the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being.  Better that happiness makes us happy rather than misery and bad luck.  Let’s delight in the optimistic, feel good stories with happy endings, and pay less attention to all the pessimistic doom and gloom.

Big K Little k, What begins with K?

There are several sweet and brilliant “K” people in my life, but if I get started talking about them I will never shut up.  So I’ll just say a few things about Kismet and Karma instead.

karma koma

karma koma (Photo credit: PixLjUicE23)

To me they don’t mean the same thing at all, but feel free to correct me if I’ve got this all wrong.  Just letting you know that even if you do confuse me with the facts, it’s still unlikely you’ll change my mind about any of this.  Ha.  Yes, I am one of those obstinate and opinionated people today.  Which makes this day not unlike every other one I’ve ever lived, but that’s another topic entirely.

Kismet to me is synonymous with the word fate – a predetermined or unavoidable destiny.  We are born, we live and we die.  You can’t really argue with that because it is pretty much an unavoidable process for being involved in dwelling on this earth.  To us as mere mortal humans, our fates are unknown and unknowable beyond the very basic and obvious.  We know death will come but we don’t know when.  It’s kind of funny how it totally surprises all of us when you think about it.  But that would be because we mostly try so very hard to never think about it at all.

Karma as action and reaction: if we sow goodne...

Karma as action and reaction: if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In between arriving and departing, we have free will.   We believe we are directing our own destiny.  If we didn’t believe this, there would be no point in trying to make something of our lives.  We would all just sit around waiting to see what happens next.  Sometimes others are very influential in pointing us in a certain direction and we may not be aware of it, or simply not care enough to stop them. Then when things turn out not to our liking we tend to blame someone else for seriously messing with our fate.

The truth is, everything that happens in our lifetimes between birth and death is Karma, or cause and effect.  Karma is what we do, and Karma is what comes back to us as a result of the decisions we made on what to do.  Life is kind of like a circle, or a looping spiral, or a meandering line going from point A to point B.  We get to choose our path.  We are in the drivers seat.  I could go on and on with these similes, but I choose to stop now.  You’re welcome.

“Karma is simply the law of cause and effect. If you plant an apple seed, you don’t a get a mango tree. If we practice hatred or greed, it becomes our way and the world responds accordingly. If we practice awareness or loving-kindness, it becomes our way and the world responds accordingly.  We are heirs to the results of our actions, to the intentions we bring to every moment we initiate. We make ripples upon the ocean of the universe through our very presence.”  – Christina Feldman Jack Kornfield, Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart, Parables of the Spiritual Path from Around the World.

“There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how  I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life – whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.” ―    Elizabeth Gilbert

So what kind of ripples on the ocean of the universe do you want to make?  I used to think I was pretty much completely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.  Now I’m not so sure.  And don’t try to talk me out of this comforting little notion I’ve got, because I quite like believing that what I say and do might actually matter

I can’t change my Kismet, or my ultimate fate.  But I can make some good Karma on the way to wherever I’m headed  I can take the bad things that happen and turn them around and head off in a different, new, even better direction.  I can be optimistic to the point where I appear to be blowing smoke up my own ass.  Sorry if that little metaphor offends, but I figured if I snuck it in here right at the end a large percentage of readers would miss it because they’re already bored to death with this whole Kismet/Karma diatribe.

Just make some good ripples today, okay?  Or some big waves.  Whatever floats your boat.  And doesn’t sink someone elses.

Me, Me, and Some More Shit About Me.

Cornelis de Heem - Still-Life with Flowers and...

Cornelis de Heem – Still-Life with Flowers and Fruit – WGA11254 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This should maybe start with some sort of disclaimer about how I’m not the biggest egomaniac in the universe, but what the hell.  I am what I am.  This is a list called “The Best Things About Me.”  Frankly, I’m surprised it’s not longer.  (HAHA!!)  (My wild stab at being ironic.)

1.  Most of the time I have a flexible, even temperament. Some might see this as being shallow and unfeeling, but nothing really bothers me.  I like to think I’m sailing through life crisis free.  It’s not that my life hasn’t had its ups and downs or that I’ve never been hurt or angry or incredibly sad, it’s just that I prefer to handle everything without a lot of unnecessary drama.  I try to approach each day as fresh and new, not worrying too much about what happened yesterday, or what might happen tomorrow.  Because whatever comes my way, I’m confident I can handle it.  Experience so far has shown me I’m absolutely right about this.

2.  My interests are simple.  I pursue an easy, manageable, uncomplicated life and don’t allow myself to fall victim to all the should and should nots with which society bombards us all.  I’m thoughtful about my life choices and think in terms of myself first, others next, and the state of the world last. (If I don’t put myself first, who in the world will?)  Yes I know I’m not that important in the grand scheme of things, and that I’m only one infinitesimal part of the big picture, but I’m the only person over whom I have ultimate control.  If I am good to myself and good to the people around me, then I don’t doubt for a minute that the world will be good to me.

3. I know my limits.  If I don’t carefully consider what they are, I can become stressed out and overwhelmed, and ultimately no good to anyone.  I tend to be self-reflective at the best of times, and if my life is full of too many obligations and too much responsibility, I shut down and withdraw into myself even further.  I need time to kick back and find my serenity.  I’ve learned to slow down.  Breathe the air.  Smell the flowers.  Luxuriate in the simple things that bring me joy.

Bokeh - Flowers - Forget-me-nots

Bokeh – Flowers – Forget-me-nots (Photo credit: blmiers2)

4.  My notions about spirituality and love and life’s purpose may be viewed as daft and unrealistic by many, but I don’t let that stop me from finding comfort in what I truly believe.  If I am happy in this moment, if I feel loved and treasured by the people who are important to me, and committed to doing no one harm, what else is there to want?  Just the very same things for everyone else in my life I guess.

So why not make it your top priority today to find your own serenity?  Treasure what you have.  Count your blessings, and go ahead and bask in the sunshine of all the good stuff life has handed you.  Euphoria is contagious.  Pass it on.