Other People’s Joy

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Here’s a hard attitude to learn: rejoicing over the good fortune of others.  If you get this habit, though, it can open your life in wonderful ways.

The Buddha called this attitude mudita, or unselfish joy. It’s the opposite of envy, a word which has no opposite in English.

From what I’ve seen, mudita is indeed rare. My two young friends: nine year old Leona and her six year old sister Lisa could certainly use some mudita. When someone does something nice for Leona, Lisa breaks down in tears.  When something good comes to Lisa, Leona tries to sabotage her good feelings with an insult or a boast.  I’m pretty sure they react negatively to each other’s infrequent good fortune because they feel deprived, mostly by their absent mother and fathers. Still, aren’t their reactions just juvenile versions of what most adults show?

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2 Responses to Other People’s Joy

  1. Tammy says:

    Okay you lost me a little on this one. I totally relate to the concept of how hard it is to feel happy for others to the detriment of our own happiness. When a coworker I like quite a a bit beat me out for a promotion. I hated her. She became my boss and despite doing a good job as such, I’ve had a hard time slapping her on the back and congratulating her. But I did work hard on my own attitude to not make myself miserable. Where you lost me is using the analogy of polyamory. Perhaps I’m a prude, or perhaps I draw from my own life experience where I saw a couple’s professed “open” relationship completely self-destruct. Relationships need to be nurtured and honored. I’m sure some folks may have worked this out, but without any science to back me up, that sticks in my craw.

    • Anna Marie says:

      “Mudita” is an overarching concept that relates to “compersion,” which is a term used in the polyamorous community. It’s specifically about being happy for your partner’s happiness with another love/lover, while mudita is about being happy for others happiness or good fortune in general.

      Personally, I think compersion is something healthy that should be found in any relationship, poly or not. I love feeling happy for my partner, and won’t settle for being with someone who does not naturally feel joy for my happiness.

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