Delight for Others - Sympathetic Joy

Sympathetic joy essentially means to experience a sense of joy in the basic goodness of others and in the fundamental well being of ourselves. In other words, it is “being happy for someone” the way we would feel proud of ourselves when we achieve things like getting a good grade on a test or getting that dream job, among other life events.

When our children bring home a fantastic report card from school, many of us would feel overwhelming sympathetic joy for our little boy or girl. When someone announces an engagement, or we cry tears of happiness at the birth of a friend’s baby, these are examples of sympathetic joy. The Sanskrit word for this underrated emotion is “mudita.” Although there is no literal translation from this word into English, the general meaning of it is to feel sympathetic joy when we witness someone else being happy. Sympathetic joy is fundamentally unconditional.

The opposite of “mudita” is to be envious of someone else’s success or good fortune. In fact, in this day and age, too many of us feel envy that we shouldn’t. We live in a world in which there’s so much pressure on us to do the right things – to go to the right school, achieve the right grades, get a good job, and do everything else that we “should” do. So, when we see other people feeling happy about their accomplishments, we tend to feel envy and jealousy towards them because they already are where we want to be in life.

However, it is vital for the mind, body and soul to transform this feeling of envy into a sensation of sympathetic joy. This unique emotion allows us to feel better within ourselves – after all, the only thing jealousy and envy do is eat us up inside, leaving no room for any positive or productive feelings at all. That’s why it’s so important to learn about sympathetic joy and how we can incorporate it into our daily lives.

But the question is, how can we do this? Well, a great way to start might be by simply smiling at a passerby on the street. It’s easy enough, right? This way, you are sending sympathetic joy onto someone else, and feeling better about yourself at the same time.

There are many ways you can introduce the concept and practice of sympathetic joy into your life. You may find it helpful to work with a therapist to help cultivate the capacity for sympathetic joy.