mudita: the conscious practice of joy in other’s good fortune

schadenfreude: the malicious enjoyment of others’ misfortune

– lovely Suella  drew my attention to mudita  in her comment on my abundance post. It immediately struck me, that while I practice this, I hadn’t known a name for it, I was responding to how I feel about meanspiritedness.

When I lived on Welbeck estate in Hucknall – not the worst estate by far – I suffered over a year of abuse ranging from shouted insults, demonstrations of acts of gross indecency, thrown stones and terrifyingly, while out on my bike, being surrounded by juveniles and forced into the path of oncoming traffic…

This stemmed from me saving a toddler from being run over, and being very clear with the 8 year olds who were supposed to be looking after him that they needed to do a better job. But it spread from the two kids to a huge group of teenagers because they already resented me because I would walk with my wheelbarrow full of seedlings to the allotment and back with crops of lovely homegrown veg. And I looked happy! How dare I look happy!?! The fact that I continued to go up to my allotment in fear of an incident that might physically hospitalise me, or trigger a return to being housebound with agoraphobia (in Newcastle I could only go out for 1-3hours per WEEK) speaks volumes to how much peace and enjoyment I gained from turning round a derelict and maltreated piece of land (60 sacks of asbestos, 90 buckets of broken glass, 19 car batteries, 2 sheds-worth of decaying wood and roofing felt, pieces of cars, 17 tyres…all had to be cleared to reveal it was riddled with twitch, black bryony, a seriously poisonous climber, a multitude of hawthorn weedlings and common mallow, oh the joy!) I loved making it a bio-dynamic haven for wildlife with flowers and crops year round, an oasis of wildness AND  a productive garden that  the old men shook their heads over, but conceded all their beans got better pollination etc now …(flowers for bees anyone?) and messy as it was, the proof was in the crops 😉

One of the things I found hardest about living there even before all this started, was the meanness, the smallminded, petty bickering and negativity that clouded everything… Living with acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder involves constant anxiety, but intermittent depression, and my husband had endogenous depression as part of bi-polar affective disorder (manic depression) so we had enough on our plates without being surrounded by pessimism and schadenfreude. What I found surprising was how resented we were for trying to make the best of things. And we only stuck it out there because Andy’s mother was determined we shouldn’t move away, even though it was so hard, she couldn’t seem to see attitudes aren’t like that everywhere, perhaps having lived all her life in this atmosphere, she simply couldn’t imagine another way.

We had enough (too much!) drama with Andy’s manic episodes and his son’s escapades (don’t go there!) and were always trying in between to have fun and positive days spent in the garden, allotment, studio, the local woods or lake… When people came round they either joined in the fun or were advised by Andy that this was a ‘no problem zone’, because having silly fun would be more healing than repeating more tales of gloom and despair…people in need of support got tea, sympathy and crystals to hold, but were subjected to Bonzo Dog Doodah Band or Sir Henry of Rawlinsons End (Vivian Stanshall, the ginger geezer genius!) or Joyce Grenfall if easily offended…not that the easily offended lasted more than an hour in Andy’s company 😉  This positive approach worked really well for us, but seemed to generate anger or bewilderment. So many people wanted to gossip or stir trouble and just weren’t interested in sorting their own lives out. And nearly everyone used something to numb out how pointless their lives felt, and were hostile to the idea of trying to change things for the better so they wouldn’t need to…

So having reminded myself how grim some aspects were (climbs out of large hole!)

What difference might it have made knowing there was an established practice of celebrating other’s good fortune?


I think I would have felt less alone, less whistling in the dark, less ‘weird’…I got very good at saying “well, that’s us, odd as two left boots”, smiling (to hide the gritted teeth!) and carrying on. It’s easier to stay on the path, if you know where it’s headed, know where you want to be. I knew about schadenfreude, knew what I resented and was working against, but didn’t have a name for that part of what I was working towards…and global goodwill, the approach to peacemaking I most like, is so much easier if every piece of good news for anyone is good news for us all…

– this is a place online I found this week which makes me happy! Where the GOOD things are! How wild is that 😉 😉 yes that  was intended, sendak me home now! 😉 is that siren I hear the pun police? 😉

I am so happy to have moved to my crooked flat in a falling down house with a neglected garden, but where I can be positive in peace!

update: talk about timing! one of my favourite people in the world, who rocks process and integrity and is so beautiful in heart and soul and intention has just made the front cover of Somerset Studio’s Art Journalling! Soraya, you are a star!

I happy dance round the room for you! and this reminds me of some lines by ee cummings that I’ve loved for 30 years now:

i’d rather learn from one bird how to sing

than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

Soraya, thank you for teaching us to sing!