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Why 'mudita' (or joy) is so much greater than schadenfreude

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Unchecked, we're hardwired to be drawn into a very uncomfortable mindstate. An uncanny emotion that jumbles together a little aggression, a touch of envy and the thrill of revenge. A feeling championed by System 1 as one of the most effective forms of happiness to leverage in comms for growth. And perhaps best explained by the ever-eloquent Lisa Simpson. If you haven't clocked it yet, I'm talking about schadenfreude.

In our hyper-competitive field of advertising, it's perhaps all too easy to see the world through the lens of schadenfreude, where pitching (and thus life) is a zero sum game. Born of the scarcity myth that there's not enough happiness, joy or success to go round, schadenfreude reduces everything to relative terms, letting our comparing minds have a total field day: if I gain, someone else has to lose.

As the pandemic stretches on, this form of dark joy has reared its ugly head more and more on social media. Bleakly, Wired reported that a recent BBC news story "LA man who mocked Covid-19 vaccines dies of virus" had 11,000 "haha" smiley face reactions, to 8,400 "sad" reactions on social; a similar Mail Online article had nearly double the number........

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