Appreciative Joy

Avi: The Pali term mudita has no direct translation into English. It is a mirror image of the practice of karuna (compassion). Whereas in karuna we practice positive mind states in the face of suffering, with mudita we do the same with happiness. I like to think of it as generalized gratitude. Whereas in gratitude practice, I can amplify the positive impact of good things in my own life, in mudita practice we derive joy from the good things in both our own as well as in others’ experience. For me, this underscores the fundamental idea of interconnectedness. My own good is not separate from the good of others. When others are fortunate or successful, we can train our minds to react with appreciation. This has a dual effect. First it neutralizes negative emotional reactions such as jealousy, bitterness, or sour grapes. Second, it improves our own wellbeing and helps us combat our natural negativity bias to maintain a balanced, realistic-yet-hopeful worldview.