If there’s anything as pleasurable as your own success, it’s your friends’ failures. While any idiot can delight in the misfortunes of others, it takes experience and knowledge to reap a full and deep satisfaction from someone else’s shortcomings. Here are some guidelines to help you become a true master of schaudenfreude.
1. Don’t Feel Empathy
Considering another’s perspective is incredibly time-consuming. It’s also useless— you’ll never actually be someone else. So when your friends make a mistake or have a failure, scrap all impulses to feel empathy and understanding and go straight to believing that your dumb friend deserves whatever suffering comes his or her way. It helps to remind your friend, no matter what the circumstances are, that if you had been in their shoes, you would have been able to avoid this problem altogether.
2. Keep Detailed Score of Your Friends Mistakes
Did your friend show up late to something? Never forget. Never let them forget that you will never forget. Do not ask what kept them off schedule—that would involve thinking about being in their position (see Rule #1). In the end, you’ll find that being tirelessly attentive to the small failures of others will keep you from examining your own. That’s a victory in itself!
3. Remember That Another’s Failure Validates Your Own Inaction
Say you’re a playwright, and one of your playwright friends writes a play that receives a bad review. Use the prospect of a poor review to justify all the plays you courageously never wrote (even though you definitely had some good ideas). All of a sudden, you’re a smart, smart person who stayed guarded while your friend proved the obvious: no one is able to please everybody. Reflect on how embarrassing this is for her and how great it is for brilliant you.
4. Be Grateful It Isn’t a Time You Have To Celebrate Their Success
We’ve all been there. A friend tells you that she got into the research program of her dreams. Another got the promotion he’d been working towards. Now you have to go out to brunch and pretend to participate in their happiness. Tedious, right? Remember that every time your friends are dwelling on their mistakes, it’s a time you don’t have to support them in their happiness. Now that’s an occasion worth celebrating.
5. Refuse to Acknowledge Failure as Integral to Improvement and Progress
Self-explanatory. Now go out there and have fun!!!