Own My Growth

Helping folks with practical tips to manage themselves better

Freudenfreude vs Schadenfreude


In most relationships, there will come a time when you will desire what the other person has or gets.

  • Someone close gets an exciting new career opportunity.
  • A co-worker gets an award or recognition.
  • A friend wins a lottery.

When we encounter situations where others get something good, many of us cannot help or stop comparing ourselves to their state. When we get into this state, we are in the grip of envy. Unfortunately, envy comes with a lot of negative press. It has been ingrained in all of us from childhood that feeling envy is not good. But I strongly feel otherwise. Envy, like anger or love, is just another natural human emotion. It is neither good nor bad. It is just an emotion.

What makes envy harmful is when we let it go unchecked and turn it into a hostile emotion where we go from thinking, “I wish I got what the other person got,” to “If I can’t have that, I don’t want you to have it either.”


When our envy shifts from wanting what the other person has to a desire for the other person not to have something, If we can’t have it, we experience schadenfreude. This is a German word for taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune.

If you want to know if you have ever experienced schadenfreude, here is a simple self-test. If you have ever derived pleasure in tracking stories of someone wealthy and successful going to court or losing their money, you have experienced schadenfreude.

Whenever you find yourself in the grip of envy, there is no problem. It is, after all, an emotion. We just have to guard ourselves against taking pleasure in someone else’s misery- Schadenfreude.

What is the alternative to schadenfreude?


This word in German means the exact opposite of Schadenfreude- It means taking pleasure in someone else’s success. When we intentionally put ourselves in a state of freudenfreude, we go beyond our natural feelings of envy to feel good for the success others experience.

No matter if it may feel a little fake or hypocritical at first, we should go ahead and seek pleasure in the success of others. 

So, if a friend, a family member, or a co-worker experiences any success that triggers in you a feeling of envy, make an eager effort to go across to them and wish them more success. Appreciate them for what they have received.

Revel in freudenfreude to keep schadenfreude at bay !! You will experience great meaningful relationships.

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