An eternity ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine, in which she was rejoicing at a former friend’s misfortunes and social demise. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I have an accurate recollection of the conversation’s tone, the place and the time we spoke. I distinctively remember concurring with her, saying he got what he deserved. Her friend was a difficult person to deal with. The man had a way of being condescending, arrogant and mean at times. Whatever he was, it is important to point out the man wasn’t evil or let alone a bad person. It isn’t easy to be around him, that is all! He is pushy, argumentative, rude at times and obnoxiously dismissive. He is hard to like and easy to dislike.
As life went on, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your vantage point, his character and antics caught up to him. People, namely his own friends, discarded him and did so effortlessly. No one wanted to deal with his unpleasant personality. In the end, ignoring him came easily to everyone including my friend and myself. Parties and gatherings became more pleasant without him. That is the hard truth. I am not going to pretend that we missed him.
In the spirit of honesty, I understood my friend’s disdain for him. Besides, they had had their own issues since they were kids. They were never involved romantically but a tension existed between and it never went away. Perhaps, it must have been because they were opposite characters. I don’t know why, but it strangely felt right clapping for that person’s demise. It felt like karma. All of his bad energy was coming back to bite him! Karma in its purest form right? It did feel good to hear he was suffering, as appalling as it sounds.
However, that was 10 years ago. That was more than 3650 days ago, another lifetime ago. Life as a unique way of teaching you and humbling you. The older you get, the more you understand certain situations and if you are lucky, you become more empathetic. I remember my friend’s smile and malicious look when she heard the man wasn’t doing so well. According to her, he deserved everything that was happening to him, maybe even more. I remember enjoying his demise myself, as awful as it sounds.
I feel differently about the whole “incident”. Today, I know it was wrong to feel happy about someone else’s pain and sorrow. I believe that no one should feel happy about other people’s problems. I can understand the need to feel content when a dictator or an evil person is plagued with problems and curses. They have hurt people, ruined lives, spread hate and despair. Some would say that even if they were evil, we should never feel bad about someone else’s misfortunes. Well, if you are a dictator and you have hurt and killed people, you are not getting any sympathy from me. God may forgive you, but I will not shed any tears. That’s me.
The man I am talking about is just a regular guy. He didn’t kill or maim anyone. He is just an ass, that is all. He didn’t deserve us clapping at his demise. Whatever happened to him, it was no reason for us to be happy about. As I think about my past thoughts and feelings, I only feel a deep sense of dread and disappointment. Can I blame my own inexperience? Can I blame those feelings on the youthful ignorance of a 25-year-old Freeman? I could but that would be easy and quite dismissive. That would be me avoiding any responsibility.
I do believe that some behavior traits are a function of youth and they slowly subside as we get older and wiser, in general, as there are always exceptions. Yet, I was happy at someone else’s unhappiness. Maybe he was depressive, maybe he lost his job, maybe he was sick, maybe someone else he cared about was sick, maybe he had financial problems, etc. Whatever the case, he was in trouble and I felt good about it. It wasn’t my proudest moment.
I came to realize that being happy about someone else’s misfortunes doesn’t bring you or anybody else any comfort. It never does and never will. It is a simplistic way of feeling superior because someone, that you don’t like, is doing worse than you. It is about vanity, nothing else. You don’t become happier because others are unhappy. You don’t become better or superior. It might even mean that you were already miserable and you are happy someone is just as miserable as you are. Ain’t that sad…Misery loves company anyway.
This compulsive need to compare ourselves to others is odd. It must be a social construct because we are social beings. Society regulates how we feel, talk, walk, act and so much more. We compare our lives to others and it seems that, in same cases, the comparison fuels how we feel about ourselves. The more miserable others are, the happier some people are. Sometimes, if others are happier than we are, we feel a sense of disappointment. How is that possible??? How is it that other people’s happiness is directly affecting how you feel about yourself? How does other people’s happiness influence yours??? Except for people we love. We want them to be happy. And what about the people we don’t like? We want them to be miserable. To what end though? Why do we care so much about those we don’t like? It beats me…
I recently decided to verify how our former friend was doing so I asked around. He seems to be doing great now. He overcame whatever obstacle he faced a decade ago. The rough patch he went through didn’t change him much however. He is still the same obnoxious son of a bitch that I knew back then. I guess some people don’t change, no matter what happens to them. Perhaps his experience didn’t humble him, or he couldn’t see the error of his way. Perhaps he is that blind or prideful. Whatever the case, it is his life. His happiness or unhappiness don’t affect me in any way. May He prosper.
Other people’s lives shouldn’t fuel in any way how you feel. Be happy with your life. If you can, help those who are less fortunate. Be there for them; help them so they can be happy. Happiness is an exquisite feeling, so why not spread it around? Do yourself and others a favor: please don’t rejoice at other people’s misfortunes. You will gain nothing from that, just a temporary flood of endorphins in your brain, which will disappear as fast as it appeared. Just live your life. Fuel the happiness from within, without comparing yourself with others. It is a waste of your time, money, energy and frankly happiness.
Just one man’s opinion…
Now, smile and go on with your day.