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From The Troubles And Misfortunes Of Others

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Rihana, May 29, 2019.

  1. Rihana

    Rihana Finest Post Winner

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    From the Troubles and Misfortunes of Others

    When facing a challenge, major setback or plain bad luck we employ coping techniques instinctively or by design. Two of these techniques bring me the desired solace but that is often followed by a niggling feeling later that I committed a wrong. Let’s call them the "at least" and "count your blessings" techniques.

    The "at least"
    With the "at least" technique, we resort to comparing our misfortune with one that befalls another person. The team loses a match, and later in the locker room, the coach and players take comfort from the fact that another higher ranked team suffered a worse and more humiliating defeat. A child is diagnosed with a major but not life-threatening illness and the parents confess to each other in the privacy of their home at dinnertime, "At least we are better off than our friends abc whose child struggles with xyz." The couple goes on to finish dinner a little more at ease with their kismet and might later even feel like watching some Netflix. A company freezes salary raises and the disheartened employee sitting at her desk in a late afternoon break thinks to herself, "At least I have not been sitting unemployed for two and a half years like xyz has been."

    In the above examples of the "at least" technique, the other suffering person does not know that we are drawing any solace from his trouble. The comparison and resultant feeling of comfort or partial relief are restricted to one’s mind or one more person who we are confident will keep it to himself. Is it right to attain comfort in this manner? Is it devoid of any wrong?

    Count your blessings
    The other technique we employ or prescribe to others is "count your blessings." We might tell ourselves, "I am blessed that I survived the car crash." "I am blessed I had a portfolio that narrowly avoided a bloodbath with the stock market crash." A passenger bumped off a flight is arguing with the airline staff at the gate, and they come to know the plane crashed at take-off, all on board dead. The passenger takes to social media and shares a "Missed grandma’s 90th birthday but counting my blessings" post that goes viral.

    In the above examples of the "count your blessings" technique, or pretty much any time we count our blessings, aren’t we implying that another person is not similarly blessed? We survived a crash, another person did not. Is it right to thus attain comfort or a sense of well-being and gratitude from the lack of certain blessings in another person’s life?
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  2. startinganew

    startinganew Finest Post Winner

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    I often do this too as a coping mechanism when things go amiss and later feel guilty of doing so (I feel the guilt physically in my stomach as to how dare I use another's misfortune to be comforted about my own situation).

    When I drive to work on the days my mind is full of my life's silly problems, I choose to listen to the news only to be relieved at how trivial my problems really are.

    Schadenfreude is definitely more extreme than what you are describing here:
    Schadenfreude - Wikipedia

    But we must coin a term for what exactly you are describing. Nicely captured by you, @Rihana
    Merriam-webster's will have a new word that will point to your post archived for posterity - as the origin of this word. :-D
     
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  3. deepthyanoop

    deepthyanoop Gold IL'ite

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    Nice one, Rihana :). These thoughts crossed my mind too.There is nothing necessarily wrong or evil in "atleast" and "count your blessings" techniques,if it is just a coping technique to deal with our own problems. We all did it( still doing) in some point of life. It's different from deliberately enjoying other people's misfortunes. But like you, I too felt bad soo many times,like am I trying to benefit from their bad luck,like emphasizing my superiority. So in my pursuit to become better (atleast I believe),if any such thoughts came to my mind, I tell myself that I don't know the total aspects of their life. They may be luckier than me in soo many ways,it's just I don't know that. I quickly send them good wishes and sincere prayers to cope with their problems and hope they find strength to deal with it. I feel better that way :)
     
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  4. Anusha2917

    Anusha2917 Finest Post Winner

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    For me these come in stages.
    The "at least" technique comes first.
    And I can relate to the examples you have mentioned.
    Next comes the "count your blessings " technique.
    But before these two the "why me " also comes.

    When I face a set back acceptance doesn't come immediately . The first thing my mind keeps thinking is "why me? Why am the chosen one for this problem , why not others in this kind of problem? " yes I always think this way though it's not good I know. I get into this comparison mode with infinite thoughts. Obviously there are no answers to all this. While I can question there are no answers, at least immediately.

    Next stage is the acceptance stage. .
    Here the "at least" comes into picture. I will call this partial acceptance.
    Okay at least I'm better than XYZ. It's okay. It's not bad after all to compare . At least from "why me" stage I have moved to comparing the good I have with the not so good the others have . Your are training your mind to accept the set back and decide to look at positives . "At least" is not a bad technique at all.
    Complete acceptance of the set back or failure comes with "count your blessings" technique. Finally now you have moved from the comparison stage and taken the set back on your stride and decided "okay it's not bad after all " . I'm lucky for so and so thing . I'm blessed for so and so thing .

    As long as these conversations are kept with self there is no harm. Say for eg : if I go tell that "xyz" - "hey you don't have a job for 2.5 years and whereas I have , but not very great salary " how would the xyz feel . This would be wrong. But when you have this conversation with yourself there's nothing wrong. Someone else is also comparing their set backs (in their minds obviously ) with us and it's a continuous process .
    When you question these two techniques(at the end of both paras) I'm not sure how else one should move on from a set back? I have seen this technique with almost every human being . If they don't adopt these techniques will they get into a cycle of infinite thoughts ? Will they move on from their set backs? If yes how ?
    Any inputs on this will help in my self improvement .
     
  5. Amulet

    Amulet IL Hall of Fame

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    No, not at all. We, i.e., those who count, and find solace in the math, are simply telling others to count and see that their total could in fact be bigger. Or “at least” not small as it could’a (should’a :tongueout:) been.
    There are such things as justifiable schadenfreude. It would SO depend on how well the persons are acquainted with one another. Feeling good about the misfortunes of total strangers would (at the very least) be in bad taste.

    schadenfreude
    /ˈʃɑːd(ə)nˌfrɔɪdə,German ˈʃɑːdənˌfrɔydə/Learn to pronounce
    noun
    1. pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
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  6. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    Madam Rihana,
    A thought provoking snippet as ever.Reminds me of the popular saying, " a person who had no shoes got satisfied when he saw a man without legs"
    For example in the recent Indian Parliamentary Election ,Congress lost and BJP won.
    Do you know how the media supporting congress published the news?
    Rahul ( congress)tried hard and increased his seats from 44 to 52,which is 18% increase.
    BJP ( the winner) was able to increase the seats from282 to 303 which is mere 7.5%
    Apprisal Grade
    Rahul gets AA+
    Modi Gets A
    Rahul is not to get depressed but remain relaxed whereas Modi is expected to work hard and improve the efficiencY score."
    See the reconciliation at political level!

    Whether we compare or not, comparison exists.'There is no gain without pain' is an oft quoted saying. But it need not come to the same person.Whenever one has narrow escape from a big crisis, he has to reconcile to the lesser evil.That is human nature.It may not be treated as rejoicing at the difficulties of others.

    You have talked about people who have met with lesser failures compared to others.
    There are many many instances in which without incurring any damage or loss we depend on the sufferings of others for existence.
    Last week I attended the wedding of a doctor bridegroom and wished him good practice as he intends setting up a clinic.While blessing the doctor, is it not an indirect curse to many who may suffer from ailments so as to visit his clinic?
    A lawyer wishes for disputes,litigations and conflicts in the lives of others so that he can have a bright career.
    The mechanic on the roadside offers Rs10/-to Roadside Ganesha awaiting some major breakdown of the car/scotter of anyone.
    A carpenter may rejoice if your windows do not close properly and a plumber would be delighted at our leaking taps and clogging drains without minding our leaking eyes.A maths teacher wants to have many mediocre students so that she could earn a lot in private tuitions.The emotional outsurge in the minds of the bereaved relatives of the brain dead, brightens the life of 4 or 5 persons.Thanks to the Transplantation
    Technology .In our office ,on the promotion interview day, a more deserving candidate suffered cardiac attack and the fortune favoured a less deserving man, as the selection was an urgent issue.
    My husband when he was 65, placed in the waiting list for corneal transplant in Sankar Nethralaya, Chennai. We were supposed to wait for seven months.But two young boys in their 20s from Bihar who suffered corneal damage due to burns from lathe, could not reach Chennai due to floods in Bihar.As the eyes could not be wasted, my husband was immediately called for and transplantation was done within an hour.It was true that the other two persons were young and restoration of their vision was important than that of a 65 year old man. Their misfortune in the form of natural calamity, helped us, the less deserving.It is entirely a different issue, that those boys returned after a week and within 3 weeks their vision was also restored.
    Ninety percent of activities of maintenance, whether health or machines depend on disorder, a problem to someone.
    What will happen if our shoes do not get torn?What if our doors, windows and furniture ever remain fresh?What will happen if every one remains healthy and no medicines are needed?All professionals, labourers and all industries will come to a standstill.All the scientific advancements and communication developments have sprung up due to earlier faults or in the form of some improvements on earlier versions.The failure or non achievement of total success of earlier scientists instigates the later scientists to identify problems and develop on the earlier themes.
    There is nothing to feel worried about the misfortunes of ours or others as long as it benefits us/ others in cycles. Is this not the core content of Gita?
    Jayasala 42
     
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  7. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Rihana,

    Comparison is the root cause of many problems in the world. "At least" and "Count your blessings" are only a minuscule part of such comparison. There are situations where we get upset that we are not in a position to do or acquire or feel like our neighbor or relative or friend do or acquire or feel.

    In my view, there is no need for "at least" and "count your blessings" approach as well. Let everything be focused on our own experiences. If we face a suffering, we can always think "at least" it didn't happen as worst as last time in our lives or "count our blessings" for not facing the same situation as last time. We need to be compassionate about the misfortunes of people around us.

    When I go to the Hospice, I don't feel "at least" I don't have a major disease like other patients in the Hospice or "count my blessings" for I am able to stand on my own feet unlike the patients. I know it is outside my control and I have no right to think that way. The only thing that makes me feel good is to help those who are in need of my help. I don't connect or compare their sufferings to my life at all.

    I believe life is only about how we are better when compared to yesterday in our own life than how we live better than others. Even if I volunteer, it should not create a feeling that I am volunteering and helping people unlike my neighbors. This life is my own journey to learn from others but how I lead my life is entirely based on how I use my free will to improve my character.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
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  8. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    :hello:Angle of Approach & Angle of Departure to the Op's apprehension excellent and quite an out of box thinking an come with erudition. That is my madam sister.
    One man's curse is another man's boon. I do count my blessings but I only empathise with one's suffers. Others ' suffering never gives me pleasure or happiness.
    Regards.
    God has created total negative karma equal to total positive karma of entire global population.
     
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  9. startinganew

    startinganew Finest Post Winner

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    While a lot of us are coping with this strategy (definitely not joy in another's misfortune, but a relief that our situation isn't as bad as the cards that some others have been dealt with, so we mustn't continue to mope around but that we must rise up each day, be grateful and go on) - you are looking at this from a very basic first principle - one that we were taught as children and one that even I hope to inculcate in my child. The principle was often taught to us in regards to "abilities" and "achievements" - don't compare with others but with yourself and what you were and where you want to be tomorrow. @Viswamitra sir, you have nicely applied this to handling adversity. Thank you for the refreshing take on it.
     
  10. Amulet

    Amulet IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Rihana,
    OTOH, benchmarking can help you feel at least adequate, or above average, or at par for your course. Yada Yada. It is all about the right words/ thoughts that can get through to your special switches in the psyche.

    Hundreds ( if not thousands) of us on this forum use the scheme to feel consoled. At first we toss our bundle to the ILF pile, hoping to find a better bundle; and then, We retrieve our bundle of bad luck or misfortune, and go home with it, because in comparison, it ain’t all that bad. We learn that “not too bad” isn’t as bad as “not too good”, even though they might as well be the same.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
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