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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Schadenfreude

No, I didn't sneeze. Thankfully, this is a written blog, so I only have to spell words correctly. I don't have to pronounce them. 

Schadenfreude, as you can probably guess, is German in origin. It means taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others. As is well documented, I love sports. Right now, I am in the throes of the San Jose Sharks playoff run, as well as the opening weeks of the San Francisco Giants season. Sports is a common incubator for schadenfreude. A good day for me is when the Giants win and the Dodgers lose. A perfect day for me is when that happens, combined with a Sharks win and a Detroit Red Wings loss. In good fun, I take great pleasure in the misery of my sports rivals.

But how true is it in other areas of my life? Recently, I was made aware of a group on Facebook based on the philosophy of karma. Out of curiosity, I checked it out to see what kind of stuff the people were posting there. I was surprised to see how many who espouse this eastern thinking were less concerned with the positive attributes of doing good in order to attract good. Instead, a majority of comments were about people's eagerness to see others get what they deserve for being jerks. They didn't care about being good for goodness sake. They just wanted some kind of mystical vengeance. 

What a sad way to go through life. We get so caught up in worrying about what others do. Some people are just mean. Some people are self centered. Some people are spiteful. Some people are vindictive. This is all true. But when their actions distract or even derail you from your pursuits, you have empowered them. People cannot take anything from you unless you give it to them. You give them your time. You give them your energy. You give them the keys to your emotional condition. 

Stop it!

Life is short. Life is precious. Life can be difficult. You only make it more complicated by wasting your time allowing others to dictate how your day is going to go. Today is the day the LORD has made. Rejoice and be glad! Focus on what is ahead of you in your own journey. Let God take care of those people. Pray for them! Read the first 14 verses in Matthew 5

Take an honest look inside yourself. See if there is any schadenfreude in you. If so, deal with it. You may even need to ask for forgiveness. You never know, you just may see something very special and transforming happen. Maybe or maybe not in them. That's between them in God. But something powerful will happen in you.