Remember Iago, the arch villain in Shakespeare’s Othello? The one who framed Desdemona so that her husband, believing she’d committed adultery, strangled her? The seed for that crime of passion grew from Iago’s hatred of seeing others happy. He acted according to one of human nature’s darker aspects, schadenfreude.
Well, Shakespeare understood humanity in all its good and bad facets. Schadenfreude is a close cousin to envy. Freudenschade is even worse: taking satisfaction in someone else’s misfortune.
Last year, having been the victim of, and also having seen glimmers of these disgusting reactions in myself a time or two (OK, maybe more), I resolved to eradicate schadenfreude/freudenschade from my life. To my great wonder and relief, I’ve been able to keep that resolution. I did it by catching myself whenever I slipped into such thinking, or sensed that I was even in its presence. I did it by reflecting on how my friends’, family members’, and acquaintances’ achievements and windfalls not only benefited them, but added to my experience, knowledge, and pleasure. Bad things happening to one hurt us all in some measure.
I supported and shared with intent. Being close in good times and bad cements relationships and deepens understanding. Iago failed to gain anything good for himself by his meanness. Healthy human interaction is about true empathy. Shakespeare understood how a generous heart can erase unhealthy emotional borderlines. I intend to expand on this generous heart business in 2015.
By Ann Minnett
This is my husband, Mike. He laughs a lot and was especially tickled when this picture was taken. He’s more apt to laugh out loud than to smirk, sigh, cry, yawn, or gasp. So yesterday when we were watching TV, knitting (me), and reading (Mike), I didn’t think too much about Mike laughing out loud.
But then he gasped. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, saying, “Do I even know you?” He was reading the first chapter of my new novel and speaking to me.
“What do you mean?”
He ruffled the pages. “Sometimes I think that you spend all your time in a distant place with people I don’t even know.”
“Why, yes I do.” My crazy characters reveal themselves to me long before they make it to the page.
I can’t tell you how it pleased me to surprise him, although I almost never set out to do so.
By Kathy Dunnehoff
Resolution – “A course of action decided upon.”
Well, I’m a planner, a BIG planner. I’m also capable of great stretches of time in fuzzy pajama bottoms watching Netflix, so don’t give me too much credit. Still, I spend January 1st, also my birthday, setting my goals for the year.
I don’t think of my yearly plan as a resolution, but it is definitely a course of action, broken down month by month, of my writing goals and often personal ones as well. But unlike most resolutions, mine do not make me feel awful when I fail to achieve them. And believe me, I will not even come close to hitting my goals for 2015. I never do.
So, how can setting yearly goals and not hitting them make me happy? I’ll tell you how it works for me…
- Set goals that in a perfect world could be achieved, so you can see what’s possible in the best of possibilities.
- Accept that it’s not a perfect world and do not blame yourself for the flu that hits every member of your family one at a time in March when you were really close to checking off a lofty goal.
- Adjust to the reality of the current circumstances and change your goals going forward from there. Goals, resolutions, plans… they are written in pencil that is easily erased, ink that can be whited out, or a computer screen with a backspace button. Your goals are alive and growing just like you are, so change them when you do.
- Look back on the week or month or year and notice what you have accomplished. Did you make a smidge of progress? Then write that down too. I keep a small “Ta-Da!” journal where I occasionally write down not what I need to do but what I have done. Or take a minute and write yourself a thank you note, “Kathy, I’m so proud of you for writing that one paragraph the month that even the dog had a cold.” Then pop that thank you note in the mail and be pleasantly surprised when it arrives in your mailbox.
That’s all my wisdom about making and keeping resolutions… dream big and be really nice to yourself. If we meet no other goals for the New Year, let’s make sure we manage these two!
Happy New Year,
By Ann Minnett
Had to laugh at Marie’s post yesterday—she dismissed worn-out resolutions like losing weight or having more patience with loved ones. Forget that. She resolves to remember appointments and will use visual prompts to help her achieve the goal. Notepad, pen and calendar are now located beside her coffee pot.
I applaud her down to earth approach for remembering.
My short term memory bedevils me, and I have over-thought it with numbing precision. My husband talked me out of a neurological exam to test for early onset dementia. (Blessedly, there’s no history of it in my family.) I’ve always been a good student, so I tried to study my way through forgetting. I failed, making my forgetting seem worse. Then Marie posted her common sense resolution yesterday.
I resolve to listen mindfully (focus) and to write it down. Thank you, Marie.
Here’s something I have done for over five years. One bangle bracelet is now my key chain. I put the bracelet on when I go into a store and haven’t lost or looked for my keys since.
By Marie F Martin
New Year resolutions that I will keep. The biggest one for me this year is to write everything I need to remember down on the list by my coffee maker. Another biggie is to check the calendar, by the coffee maker beside the note board. And to check for messages on both telephone and cell phone. I will do this every day. I will remember.
Was it really that many years ago my vows were to lose weight and exercise? To be more patient with teenage children and hubby? To do my daily reading? To not bitch in my car about stupid drivers? Those I did not keep, but lists and messages are mine. No problem.