I was walking to my car last night with a friend of mine. It was a spring night, warm and just then cooling off, we’d been having our coffee on the grass, in a circle, looking vaguely like a coven, and I think both of us were feeling pretty happy.
As we walked, we were talking about all the various creative projects we were involved in, and how we so rarely actually get to see each others stuff, because there is so much richness happening in the scene in Austin. And she said something like, “I want to be jealous that I can’t see/be in things that my friends are in, but I’m not. I’m just too happy for them to be jealous.”
And she meant it, cause she’s just that lovely and amazing.
She’s got a version of compersion, and big time.
Compersion, a word coined by the Kerista Commune in the 50’s, basically means “a non-sexual state of empathetic happiness and joy experienced when an individual’s romantic partner experiences happiness and joy through an outside source, including, but not limited to, another romantic interest”.
In this case, my friend wasn’t happy for a partner’s romantic experience, but was thrilled and joyful about friends and their creative experiences, of which she was not a part. Which, to my way of thinking is nearly the same thing, creativity being second cousins to the erotic in my mind. It’s generative and exciting anyway.
While jealousy and envy are natural human emotions and we all find ourselves in situations where we don’t get what we want, or someone else has what we ourselves would like, I think they are ultimately destructive. They aren’t comfortable emotions. They can bring about even darker and more bitter feelings if left unchecked, indeed they can lead us to do truly cruel things. I am certainly guilty of having moments of WHYMAUDEWHYNOTME Or WHATSSOSPECIALABOUTTHATPERSON and of wallowing in anger about the unfairness of it all.
Perhaps they served a purpose, evolutionarily speaking (or still do to some extent), but seems like to me the impulse to feel those dark red, swirled black feelings of GRRRRRRRRR, can be misplaced. A lot of those feelings have to do with something else; being left out, scarcity, not enough for me, not enough love, joy, fun, conversations, ideas, opportunities. Loneliness, Not Being Needed, Scarcity are the demons that want to destroy Generosity, Support, and Plenty.
Compersion is a word that opened doors for me in many ways. I am far more able to see the Plenty in my life and to be happy for people even if they have things I don’t. Which is not to say that I don’t feel sadness or envy or jealousy at times. Just that those feelings can be consciously tempered with the ability to feel happiness for others happiness. My jealousy doesn’t last as long. My ability to feel supportive happens more quickly. It’s a far more peaceful and loving way to feel, and I’m glad I learned about it.
My sweet and amazing young friend seems to already have a corner on that compersion market.
I’m happy about that.
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