Schadenfreude is one of those German words that doesn't have a direct translation. It means "joy in another's misfortune". Whole branches of comedy (slapstick) and TV shows (all of Reality TV in my opinion, but definitely "candid camera" and "funny home videos") are built on this concept.

I watched this video of a kitten going beserk on facebook recently, and you'll have to see for yourself how high it jumps and how many times it contorts itself in horror. While the people taking the video were laughing, my first thought was - hope it didn't hurt itself.

And that got me wondering about my sense of humor (or lack thereof), my sense of Schadenfreude, my preferences for Extraverted Feeling, and how they may be connected.

Sense of Humor

I'm German, I have none.

Obviously.*

Sense of Schadenfreude

It's no surprise that studies have shown people with lower self-esteem are more likely to feel better about themselves when they see others are worse off. There've also been studies about how Schadenfreude relates to empathy - do specific centers in the brain get activated when you think someone deserves to be punished? Apparently, they do.

I've laughed at people falling down before, and at clowns in the circus getting water squirted in their faces.

Not sure how good I felt about myself afterwards though.

Extraverted Feeling

People who have this preference in their first two functions often report being able to empathize with others, desiring harmony, and having an ability to fulfilling other people's wishes. Be who others want them to be, not necessarily who they want to be themselves. These gifts are tremendously helpful when it comes to establishing rapport, being a servant leader, or taking care of others, but they can also be debilitating.

Trying to please everyone you often end up pleasing no one, and worst case scenario, you might lose your self in the process.

Setting your own well-being aside to make sure others are served and well taken care of can be dangerous, especially when you're using your self-sacrifice as emotional blackmail bargaining chips.

Also, sometimes a joke is just a joke. Not everything has to be taken seriously; not everything has to be taken personally. I'm married to a Spaniard who thinks he's funny, so I have to remind myself of this particular point very consciously, and on a daily basis.

Any of this resonate with you?

*in case you don't know me and sarcasm doesn't translate well off the page, I'd like to think I have a bit of wit inside me. I laugh at Billy Connolly and experiences. I can laugh at misfortunes - but feel much better when I know the person is going to be alright in the end. :-)

Image by felixtsao, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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