What Mudita actually means
The word “Mudita” comes from Pali, an ancient Indian language, and doesn’t have a direct translation into English. Each time we meet someone, we need to spend some time explaining what it means and why we decided to give this name to our company.
“What a pain!” you might say. In fact, we very soon discovered the blessing of it. The number of fascinating, wise, inspiring conversations, that the necessity of describing the concept of Mudita brought, surprised us. How often does it happen that you end up talking about happiness and compassion when discussing your business? For us, this happens all the time.
Let’s start with the basics
We borrowed Mudita from buddhist philosophy. It’s the third of the four brahmaviharas, the most essential virtues, called the “Four Immeasurables”. In simple words Mudita can be explained as an unselfish joy of happiness of others.
It’s easier to understand and appreciate its value by looking at the opposite states, with jealousy being the most common one. Is it hard to see photographs on Instagram of a friend happily getting married while you’re dealing with another break-up? Or scrolling through your LinkedIn feed full of university friends announcing their latest promotions and accomplishments? Your work colleague just came up with an innovative idea you’ve been thinking of too, how does it make you feel? It probably feels far from joy and satisfaction.
This doesn’t mean that you’re an evil person, thinking about your friends getting fired or divorce. Envy is is quite a natural reaction. Sometimes, it’s as if there were limited resources of happiness and we’re afraid of missing out. It seems that nowadays it’s more difficult than ever to resist it. Competition is one of the most important values that western culture is built upon.
It can feel as only those ahead of everyone else in the race for success will get their piece of cake. It’s a common belief, that you’ll only find the best job if you beat the competition, or that in order to do it, you have to study at the best colleges and universities, coming first to get better grades than others. Success and achieving your goals is the highest reward, so it’s OK to do it at all costs. Social status, a great car, another exotic trip and a fancy job title are associated with happiness and fulfillment, so that’s what we seek.
Dare to look for your way
With the assumption that happiness is a rare commodity, we learn to spend our lives trying to acquire all of these things that are supposed to provide it. Even though most of us can intuitively feel that it’s not necessarily the right way, we get surprised and disappointed when all our efforts bring is anxiety and solitude. It often takes a lot of suffering, envy and anger before we start to critically analyze whether our objectives can ever give us our real goal, true fulfillment.
Similar journeys lead us to our search and discovery of the concept of Mudita. It’s a simple yet genius idea that goes completely against the competitive race for achievements. Buddhism teaches us, that true happiness can’t be obtained by trying to provide it just for yourself.
It starts when we feel true satisfaction for the success and joy of all people, not only those close to us. It has nothing to do with external accomplishments or material goods, but can only be created internally. The good news is that happiness is always available, regardless of the circumstances. Taking honest sympathetic joy from the fortune of others opens up an infinite source for us. That’s what Mudita is, but developing this state doesn’t come without effort and practice.
How to cultivate Mudita
The best way to begin is to simply set yourself the challenge of intentionally trying to share the happiness of other people. A good idea is to set some kind of reminder that will make you think about it every day, even just for a couple of minutes. There are thousands of reasons to quit your social media accounts but they can also serve as a great tool for training your thoughts towards developing more compassion.
The next time you want to mentally criticize a friend that puts another photo of her crawling toddler online, try to stop for a moment and direct your thoughts towards the joy that she feels. Meditation is very powerful and helpful in cultivating Mudita. Focusing entirely on the people, whose happiness you want to share, can help you evoke this feeling more easily in your everyday life.
When we came up with the idea of our company, from the beginning it was about changing the rules of the game. Instead of falling into the scheme of a technology company looking for a way to engineer user’s behaviours and occupy more of their attention, we wanted to give the control back to them. In this modest way we’d like to create a bit more happiness. By naming our company Mudita we’ve made a commitment and are putting all of our efforts towards it.
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