In short, it states that in order for one to attain a state of happiness, another must become unhappy. Here’s a few common examples:
- Your favorite basketball team won in the championship. This made you happy, but a fan of the opposing basketball team is of course sad.
- Your co-worker got a promotion. He’s happy, and you tell him that you are happy for him, but deep inside there’s a part of you that’s a little upset about it. That little part of you is saying that you’ll be happier if it’s you who got promoted and not him.
- When you stole money and bought whatever you want with it, your level of happiness will go up. Needless to say, the person whom you stole from will have his level of happiness going down.
Please don't get me wrong. I'm not born yesterday nor am I blinded by looking too long through rose-colored spectacles. I'm well aware that when some people are basking themselves in bliss here, there's always a chance that another set of people elsewhere are all feeling blue. That's the law of balance and all, the same way Christians believe that Hell exists because Heaven is nothing without it. But the thought that my own happiness can directly cause someone distress—even if unintentionally? I don't know, it kind of screams Schandefreud to me. A very subtle, "unconscious" version of it, I may say.
Someone told me this isn’t absolutely true. "It’s true in the sense that to know happiness one must know sadness, but, as you show, this “law” isn’t definite. It’s just an interesting play on the law of conversation of energy."
But I got to admit it this "law" has me pondering, too.