Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Schadenfreude Watch: Australia

The latest article explaining the word Schadenfreude comes to us all the way from Australia. Ruth Ostrow, writing in The Australian Business, warns against malicious joy in the misfortunes of others and suggests the more positive Buddhist concept of mudita - "sympathetic joy" or "happiness in another's good fortune." This is certainly the more enlightened approach. But is it funny?

Metaphorically slipping on a banana peel produces much more mirth than appreciating your neighbor's promotion. And Ostrow is forced to admit that "Wellbeing experts describe laughter and a sense of humour as 'healthy' while perhaps overlooking the fact that the humour is often rooted in humiliation of the other."

For more on the positive aspects of humor, especially in the workplace, visit The Humor Project.