Whose happiness are you resenting?

Members of the polyamorous community have a beautiful term called compersion, which is the empathetic state of happiness and joy experienced when another individual experiences happiness and joy.

Essentially, it’s the opposite of jealousy. According the founders of the movement, compersion is the antidote to the insecurity, fear and anticipated loss of a partner over their affection for another lover. 

It sanctions the idea of our partner deriving pleasure separate from us and from another source, ultimately strengthening the connection between the two people. 

This is not a new idea. Buddhists have been practicing this principle for thousands of years. Monks use the term mudita, which means vicarious joy. The pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well being without the strings of self interest.

Now, if this way of relating to people seems difficult, it’s because it is. Our nature as humans is to become competitive and comparative, not compassionate. 

I’m reminded of a brilliant standup special. Rock explained the difference between men and women as follows. 

When women go out with their friends and have a good time, we are happy for you. But it doesn’t work the other way around. Women do not want us to have a good time, ever. If you come home from work, and she sees a smile on your face that she didn’t put there, she’s gonna get suspicious. That’s right, if you go out and have a good time with your boys and she asks how it was, you just say, it was alright. Because cause if you go beyond alright, you’re gonna be in a fight. 

And so, if we want to have a more holistic relationship with joy, we must learn to feel it when it has nothing to do with us. 

To be happy simply because somebody we love is happy. 

As my grandfather used to say, the meanest feeling of which any human being is capable is feeling bad at another’s success. 

It’s time to practice a little compersion. 


Whose happiness are you resenting? * * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  



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