Food for thought — Is it better to be unhappy because of someone else's happiness? Or to be happy because of someone else's unhappiness?
Truly, both situations have a hint of darkness injected in it but such is life… as no one's perfect and we sometimes succumb to eating the forbidden fruit. However, there are instances where it's a matter of picking the better of 2 evils. Is it more tolerable to have the green monster constantly residing inside you or to find euphoria in sadistic vileness — or perhaps schadenfraude, to put it simply?
Envy — one of the seven cardinal sins. It's a household name, isn't it? If it doesn't constantly haunt our lives, surely it has paid us a visit at least once in our lives. It's an emotion that leads us to feel even more emotions — mostly those that we don't thoroughly enjoy feeling. It's the frustration of not being able to reach for what we want… and then seeing someone else possess what we desire, that's when situations turn sour. Even deadly.
It's almost normal to feel envious, isn't it? However, does it absolve us from committing a grave sin attributed to our passion for earthly matters?
Parrott (1991) managed to split a hair strand by distinguishing 2 kinds of envy: the non-malicious kind and the malicious. The former is a classic case. It simply denotes one's desire for something that another person has. “I wish I have what you have.” Aren't we all guilty of having thoughts like that everyday? It's as habitual as having dinner as it's human nature. However, the latter kind involves wrath and an unhealthy amount of passion for something. “I wish you do not have what you have.” It's almost as if it's continued by: only because I cannot have it. Not only is it envy on steroids, but it's also selfishness and abomination all rolled into one.
The difference is — so you're envious, what are you going to do about it? That's when having options start becoming dangerous.
As for schadenfraude, it is the happiness in finding malice over someone else's mishap. The unfortunate mentality either stems from disdain felt towards someone or even from a general sense of envy — perhaps with a dash of relief that it didn't happen to us. Nonetheless, it's still evil at work disguised as extreme joy, especially since it's entirely possible that schadenfraude could be the most sincere kind of happiness ever to exist. It's the sad truth.
However, the universe always finds a way to maintain some sort of equilibrium on earth. And for this particular matter, a spoonful of karma is prescribed by the doctor. Surely, finding happiness in someone else's sorrow isn't a difficult thing to do — which means, that someone else finding happiness in your sorrow is also as easy as pie. No matter how secret our little schadenfraude moment is, it will always find a way to knock us back and sigh. We were asking for it — and we knew it.
Maybe Arthur Schopenhauer has given us an answer regarding my question up top: “To feel envy is human, to enjoy schadenfraude is devilish.” To feel the emotion is perfectly okay, but reacting adversely towards it is what draws the line between human and inhuman.