Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Green-Eyed Monster vs. Schadenfraude

Food for thought -- Is it better to be unhappy because of someone else's happiness? Or to be happy because of someone else's unhappiness?

Truly, both situations have a hint of darkness injected in it but such is life... as no one's perfect and we sometimes succumb to eating the forbidden fruit. However, there are instances where it's a matter of picking the better of 2 evils. Is it more tolerable to have the green monster constantly residing inside you or to find euphoria in sadistic vileness -- or perhaps schadenfraude, to put it simply?

Envy -- one of the seven cardinal sins. It's a household name, isn't it? If it doesn't constantly haunt our lives, surely it has paid us a visit at least once in our lives. It's an emotion that leads us to feel even more emotions -- mostly those that we don't thoroughly enjoy feeling. It's the frustration of not being able to reach for what we want... and then seeing someone else possess what we desire, that's when situations turn sour. Even deadly.

It's almost normal to feel envious, isn't it? However, does it absolve us from committing a grave sin attributed to our passion for earthly matters?

Parrott (1991) managed to split a hair strand by distinguishing 2 kinds of envy: the non-malicious kind and the malicious. The former is a classic case. It simply denotes one's desire for something that another person has. "I wish I have what you have." Aren't we all guilty of having thoughts like that everyday? It's as habitual as having dinner as it's human nature. However, the latter kind involves wrath and an unhealthy amount of passion for something. "I wish you do not have what you have." It's almost as if it's continued by: only because I cannot have it. Not only is it envy on steroids, but it's also selfishness and abomination all rolled into one.

The difference is -- so you're envious, what are you going to do about it? That's when having options start becoming dangerous.

As for schadenfraude, it is the happiness in finding malice over someone else's mishap. The unfortunate mentality either stems from disdain felt towards someone or even from a general sense of envy -- perhaps with a dash of relief that it didn't happen to us. Nonetheless, it's still evil at work disguised as extreme joy, especially since it's entirely possible that schadenfraude could be the most sincere kind of happiness ever to exist. It's the sad truth.

However, the universe always finds a way to maintain some sort of equilibrium on earth. And for this particular matter, a spoonful of karma is prescribed by the doctor. Surely, finding happiness in someone else's sorrow isn't a difficult thing to do -- which means, that someone else finding happiness in your sorrow is also as easy as pie. No matter how secret our little schadenfraude moment is, it will always find a way to knock us back and sigh. We are asking for it -- and we know it.

Maybe Arthur Schopenhauer has given us an answer regarding my question up top: "To feel envy is human, to enjoy schadenfraude is devilish." To feel the emotion is perfectly okay, but reacting adversely towards it is what draws the line between human and inhuman.


Blogger nel said...

Here is my food for your thoughts ... I don't think anyone can quantify happines by chasing after a carrot hanging at the end of a yard stick. The problem here is when people look at happiness outside themself instead of within themself. A life-time would be wasted by doing just that ... **smile always** ... and cheers for the day ... :)

12:41 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

I agree with Nel above. true Happiness comes from WITHIN 100%! If u can't find that in u, then it's gonna be a very miserable life.

We r truly happy when we can love and appreciate ourselves. The we dont have to look outside to be happy.


2:09 PM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

I really really enjoyed the posts: both this and the one about arranged marriages on the magazine (the only two I read, that is). Very well analyzed, indeed!

About this post, well, given a choice between being jealous and schadenfraude-n, I'd choose the latter. There is a certain bit of admission to weakness, of succumbing to temptation in envy (the malicious kind, more than any) that makes it so disgusting to me. Rather feel devilish and face the divine justice that comes crushing the superiority than stay back and crib about someone else's good fortune!

Thanks for visiting my blog... I'll keep coming here. :)

4:54 PM  
Blogger Princess Banter said...

Nel -- yes, very true indeed :) happiness can only be found within one's self. However, if you were cornered into choosing between envy and schadenfraude... which one would you choose?

Keshi -- yeah agreed, hopefully more people with realize the truth in what you just said...

Sudipta -- Thanks :) And very good point regarding the nature of schadenfraude. It's simply acknowledge the karmic nature of the universe :) Haha!

12:17 PM  
Blogger Sheela said...

Enjoyed this post and the one on arranged marriage - struck a cord, really...
thanks for stopping by, btw

>>>>Surely, finding happiness in someone else's sorrow isn't a difficult thing to do -- which means, that someone else finding happiness in your sorrow is also as easy as pie.

True, indeed. I am a firm believer in Karma. Does intent weigh more than the act? If I squish a bug under my shoe without intending to, am i asking for it? Or, is it that, if I intend to destroy the bug and then follow through and squish, then I am asking for it?

>>>>the universe always finds a way to maintain some sort of equilibrium on earth.

i am completely sold on this theory!

1:35 PM  
Blogger raghav said...

When you envy someone for something that person has (or rather your lack of it) there are two ways in which you can get rid of the 'green eyed monster':
1. get what he has, not feasible most of the time.
2. Take away from him what he has that was irking you so much.

I believe the pleasure from both might be 'on the surface' different. But are intertwined and are essentially the same.

btw: you have put the idea across really articulately, in a concise manner. I wish I could do the same one day. I ENVY (non malicious) you.

cheers and thanks for stopping by ..

2:22 PM  
Blogger nel said...

I am more towards the Schadenfreude type ... :)

4:30 PM  
Blogger XioniX said...

There is a third side to maliciousness that is not so dark... Its what brings progress, its what unites many.
I guess, that is why the word attitude plays a really important part in one's life...
I see the rich man's TV... I like it... I could steal it or I could work towards a life- a tomorrow, in which there should be a better TV in my living room.

Its this want that drives us and at its core forces one nation to develop itself to be better than the neighbouring, and, hence is essential if there need be progress.

And it is the attitude that has in the process of evolution put man where he is and beast a mile apart.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Kyla Bea said...

Very interesting! I think that a lot of what we encounter in our own emotions and how we deal with them comes down to impluse control, the "Am I going to stay with this feeling, or just breath and wait for it to pass?" question.

For some people who don't take this pause, it's easy to get swept into the extremes of envy, greed, manic happiness, the whole shabang! When you don't take that pause, life is a lot more difficult because it all revolves around you. I can't imagine the weight that must put on a person's shoulders! When you're able to give a little of that perspective up, it seems to me that things get better- schadenfraude or not.

And thanks for visiting my blog! = )

8:48 PM  
Blogger Another Twentysomething said...

Thanks for checking out my new layout! And interesting post- thanks for taking the discussion to new heights. My personal 2 cents is that there's some humility involved in envy, and I'd rather have that than be malicious.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Princess Banter said...

Sheela -- personally, I think karma is just applicable to our deliberate actions. After all, do unto other what you want to be done unto you. Anything else that doesn't fall under that category, I would assume, will be nature's decision :)

Raghav -- I agree, the pleasure involved is fundamentally similar only because it ultimately obtaining your desire :) good one!

Xionix -- I admire your optimism as you've found a way to twist a negative into a positive! We need more people like you on earth...

Kyla Bea -- Very true. Perhaps part of the reason as well is people's poor satisfactory levels. We always want something no matter how much we already have. People ought to reflect on those aspect as well.

Another 20something -- Envy truly is a human emotion to feel but I reckon that putting malice in it causes us to take it one notch higher in the vileness ladder.

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful notes :) I hope to have another post up soon enough!

12:49 PM  
Blogger XioniX said...

Ha ha... your reply to those comments do look like they have been made by a princess.

And the comments, well, also like they have been made to a princess. "Thank you for coming to my page" - hilarious.

You related to queen Elizabeth by any chance?

1:02 AM  
Blogger Velocity said...

being malicious r non-malicious is all based on the perspective not the person.. Think abt it montoyo gets to drive F1 cars with no traffic., but non every one us...

Envying him., takes us no where., just enjoy the show n move on., always remember we have our own destinations to reach..

Anyways ur article was good n worth an appreciation...

keep up the good work.. do comment on blogs with ur royal touch

3:15 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I came I saw and was impressed

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My URL has now changed to :



6:54 PM  

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