Schadenfreude or Mudita? Your Choice

The word Schadenfreude essentially means to take pleasure in the misery of others’. Naturally delighting in others’ misfortune isn’t good no matter how you slice it. But let’s face it, sometimes it is human nature; some say that we’re just human, right? Take for instance the case of Charlie Sheen. Some pay good money to see him talk (banter); others pay the same good money to boo him off stage, and display their utter distaste for his continuous, big-headed, “winning!” mockery.

As Dave Reardon from The here in Honolulu put it, it’s “an ugly word for an ugly characteristic.” Reardon was making a point about Hawaii high school sports dynasties and the low tolerance some people have for them, especially those they considered arrogant. His article came about from his experience covering Punahou baseball yesterday. After dominating for seven straight years, they fell hard yesterday to the delight of many. Reardon pointed out that even well-respected gentlemen were hoping they would get smashed. That they did. Mid-Pacific blew them out 8-0.

So what is the opposite of this vile word? Well, Wikipedia states: “The Buddhist concept of mudita, “sympathetic joy” or “happiness in another’s good fortune”, is cited as an example of the opposite of schadenfreude.”

There have been a number of scientific studies of schadenfreude. Some of the results say it is correlated with envy. Other research findings, according to what I read in Wikipedia, have shown that “people with low self-esteem are more likely to feel schadenfreude than are people who have high self-esteem.”

As with all in life, it comes down to choices and each one of us deciding for ourselves, Schadenfreude or Mudita?


  1. Robert

    Schadenfreude – what an ugly emotion, the unofficial Eighth Deadly Sin. Even worse, it’s always going to be there. No matter how many times you tell yourself that delighting in the misfortunes of others is wrong and that you’ll never do it again, schadenfreude will never leave the human heart. It’s part of you, it’s part of all of us. What I hate most is seeing people try to justify their schadenfreude. It’s horrible when people find pleasure in others’ suffering and don’t see anything wrong with it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s