I once had a boss I really disliked. After leaving the organization, I learned that he got demoted after a major mistake. As a shiver of delight worked its way up my spine I consciously fought the urge to smile as my colleague, who liked the guy, shared the news. The difficult-to-translate German word schadenfreude, combining schaden (damage) and freude (joy), describes a universal human emotion: taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others. It’s what keeps us glued to reality TV and those star bashing magazines, with the endless, fabulous mess-ups of the Snookies or Kardashians of the world.

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