Mudita. The practice of sympathetic joy.

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It’s easy to practice sympathetic joy with these two characters.

I was feeling blue the other day and logged onto Facebook. (Usually a terrible idea) But the first thing I came across was a posting from a friend in Los Angeles. “I don’t usually toot my own horn,” he said, “but I just won Teacher of the Year at my school!” I went on to watch the short video celebrating him and my heart swelled.

I immediately started a new thread:

I love it when people toot their own horn. My friends don’t do it enough! Tell me one thing you are proud of right now. Toot people! Toot!”

I watched as dozens of people share their victories: “I got an article published in the Huffington Post! I’m having my first art show in SOHO tonight! I got through another day. I’m home alone with two puking kids and I’m rocking it. I kicked cancer…” The whole range was there. And with each reply, my heart felt more and more full, a genuine joy moving through me.

And I remembered that there is a name for this – Mudita. Or sympathetic joy. The genuine pleasure you get from celebrating others. The deep joy that finds you when someone you love is happy. The vicarious joy you experience when someone shares a story about something great in their life.

It also reminded me of something important – that my heart is good. That my heart wants to celebrate others and to feel joy.  That my most natural inclination is actually toward well-being- both for myself and others. In a world where we are prone to not-enoughness- where we can go on Facebook and feel triggered, jealous, inferior… it was so good to allow the successes of others to buoy me, to literally pull me out of a dark place.

Their lights shining actually allowed me to find mine.

So I’ll put it out here as well. What are you proud of right now? Toot people! Toot!

 

 

 

 

13 Comments

  1. Posted May 22, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful! I loveddddddd that FB post! haha Precious shot of the boys too. <3

  2. Posted May 22, 2014 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Today someone called me “an organized person” and I realized that yes, I am. : )

  3. Posted May 23, 2014 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Love this, Andrea! I just set aside 3 full days to study for a big final exam, and I was all but convinced that I would self-sabotage and squander the time. But… I actually focused & worked the whole 3 days. Test day is tomorrow, so no matter what happens I can truly say I did my best. Super proud of that. It feels great to fulfill an intention I set for myself!

    And yes, I popped over to your blog during a study break… shhh don’t tell anyone ;)

  4. Posted May 23, 2014 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    I saw your post on Facebook. It was my birthday. All I could come up with is “I am 41!” It didn’t feel big enough. I need to do something toot-worthy this week!

  5. Milly
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Hi Andrea, thank you for revealing (yet again!) how sometimes a minute shift in how you view things can have an immense and positive impact on your life. I’m from the UK and I think we’re possibly the worst non-tooters/anti-tooters out there!

    Ok toot toot for me; I’ve reconnected with my teenage best friend after 17 years of having lost touch/vague facebook contact, and just hanging out together has been brilliant :o)))

  6. Posted May 23, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I love the line, “it also reminded me of something… that my heart is good.” beautiful. thank you.

  7. Myra
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Great post! I’ve always downplayed my accomplishments and this post really hit home the fact that, in general, people are rooting for each other to do well in their lives and love to celebrate one another. I
    Just had my second med/intervention free birth at home in 5 hrs yesterday and couldn’t be more happy or proud! PS. We named him Nico! Thanks again for your great perspective, Andrea!

  8. B
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Mine is very minor compared to the other examples, but this week at work, I had a bad exchange with a mean person who was lashing out in the wrong direction, and accused me of being something negative.

    Usually, it would have plunged me into a deep and insecure cycle of self-loathing and recriminations, leading to depressive thoughts – that little (but loud) voice that says the other person is right. But this time, although I was angry at their rudeness, I wrote a reply to the person to say that it was not true, that they were wrong and the best thing of all was that I fully believed it. I didn’t hear from them again.

    Perhaps, somewhere, I am letting go of other people’s hold over my self-worth and finally working it out for myself!

  9. Mary
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful post, and yes shared joy is important. I am in the midst of reconnecting with what matters to me. And deciding what I am capable of and what I want. And this is good.

  10. Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    A few days ago, on the 3rd day of my husband being out of town for work, I successfully dealt with 2 “emergencies”: kitchen flooding from broken water line in freezer and 3-year-old busting up his forehead on a toy ukelele. Handling these things alone made me feel more confident about all the traveling he does when I am alone with our 2 young children.

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