Although I haven’t studied every language in detail, my guess is that all languages borrow words from other languages. Often these foreign words are used to express notions already understood in the native culture. In English, you sometimes hear people referring to schadenfreude. Schadenfreude is a German word that implies happiness at someone else’s misfortune. Of course, that’s quite the terrible mental state, but the reason that word exists is because it does capture the way some people think.

I would like to help popularize another word, which is essentially the opposite of schadenfreude. The word is mudita and it is the joy felt at someone else’s happiness. The word may have Buddhist origins, but the feeling it names is universal. For example, who wouldn’t feel joy when a loved one succeeds at something?

Mudita can also be thought of as the opposite of envy, one of the seven deadly sins according to ancient Christian teachings. So, if you see someone doing well, I hope you get a feeling of mudita. And, I’m sure you will agree that the world would be a better place if there was more mudita and no shadenfreude.

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