Mudita is a Buddhist (Pali and Sanskrit) word meaning rejoicing in others’ good fortune. Mudita is sometimes considered to be the opposite of schadenfreude.
The term mudita is usually translated as “sympathetic” or “altruistic” joy, the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being rather than begrudging it. Many Buddhist teachers interpret mudita more broadly as referring to an inner spring of infinite joy that is available to everyone at all times, regardless of circumstances. The more deeply one drinks of this spring, the more secure one becomes in one’s own abundant happiness, and the easier it then becomes to relish the joy of other people as well.
The traditional example of the mind-state of mudita is the attitude of a parent observing a growing child’s accomplishments and successes.
Mudita is also traditionally regarded as the most difficult of the brahmaviharas to cultivate. To show mudita is to celebrate happiness and achievement in others even when we are facing tragedy ourselves.
The “far enemies” of mudita are jealousy and envy, two mind-states in obvious opposition. Mudita’s “near enemy,” or quality which superficially resembles mudita but is in fact more subtly in opposition to it, is exhilaration, perceived as a grasping at pleasant experience out of a sense of insufficiency or lack.
Somehow, I am still working on this one. I received some excellent news from a friend this week, and it was a bit hard to just be happy for him. He’s one of those friends who has cut me off to a great extent, though not as completely as others, and sometimes I simply miss those people very much. The saddest part of bipolar is that people are often so unforgiving of things that happened during a manic time, in a way that is hurtful. And even when they do forgive, the closeness that was there is lost and can’t be recovered.
Still, I am happy for my friend and wish him all the best. He has all that I ever wished for him and all that I tried to show him how to attain – so I should simply be pleased with that. But intentions are often misunderstood, especially when they are expressed by someone in a hypomanic state, as I’m sure anyone who has dealt with bipolar disorder knows all too well. Even those fun shopping sprees can have repercussions we don’t expect later on. It’s good to not be in that state anymore!
So while I don’t work to “just be normal” anymore, now I think I work beyond that even, to try to come to a place where I can be glad even for those who do not wish me well. And finding joy even for those who cannot let me be a part of their lives is a difficult, but necessary, step for me.