Schadenfreude and the trouble with envy

Today much of England is enjoying Schadenfreude, revelling in the pain suffered by Germany as their national heroes were humiliated in Russia yesterday.

This marked the first time that the German national side hadn’t progressed to the last 16 of a World Cup since 1938. Unlike England, who have struggled to make an impact on a World Cup since they won it over 50 years ago. So the schadenfreude is palpable at the time of writing.

The term even made the front page of The Sun today.

Schadenfreude - the feeling of elation you get from revelling in another's misery
Schadenfreude – the feeling of elation you get from revelling in another’s misery

After so suffering so many defeats to our EU cousins in tournaments, even I was chuckling at the twitter memes, and I may have watched the last 5 minutes of their match several times…

Schadenfreude is the feeling experienced by those feeling inadequate, and no wonder that the nation is experiencing this after watching Germany win trophy after trophy whilst England faltered.

But it’s not a great reaction to see in the workplace or in your private life, because to experience schadenfreude you also need to be experiencing envy.

Envy can consume enormous chunks of time and energy, and has little in the way of upside. Envy, as Joseph Epstein wrote, is the only one of the 7 deadly sins that isn’t any fun.

As is often the case, one of my favourite dead stoics, Marcus Aurelius has the answer. “Don’t set your mind on things you don’t possess…but count the blessings you actually possess and think how much you would desire them if they weren’t already yours.”

But just for today I’m going to enjoy the schadenfreude.

“Envy is the only one of the 7 deadly sins that isn’t any fun” Joseph Epstein

At least until the match tonight.

#envy #nexus8 #stoicism

Matt

Experienced business leader, mentor and coach, with fascinations for technology, psychology and ancient philosophies. A self-confessed techno hippy with a unique talent for bringing the best out in people.

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