The Book of Human Emotions: From Ambiguphobia to Umpty - 154 Words from Around the World for How We Feel - Tiffany Watt Smith 2016
The sight of another’s smile is not always simple. We may walk around their gorgeous new house, or hear about that perfect afternoon spent with the grandchildren at the zoo, and sense our hearts lifting up to meet theirs, echoing with their joy. But beneath our congratulations there might also be a little knot of envy, something shriveled and beaten. Sometimes, as Gore Vidal realized, “it is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”
For Gautama Buddha, who lived in the fifth or sixth century BCE, joy was not a scarce resource to be competed over, or parceled out to only a lucky few. He saw it as boundless. For him the word mudita (pronounced moo-dee-ta) captured an experience of JOY, rather than ENVY or RESENTMENT, on hearing of someone else’s good fortune. And he suggested that the fact mudita could be felt at all, is evidence that someone else’s pleasure doesn’t diminish your own store, but increases it.
See also: GLADSOMENESS; COMPERSION; EMPATHY.
Or alternatively, see: SCHADENFREUDE.