Are you familiar with the German word schadenfreude? It means to take pleasure in the misfortune of others. During my round at DeLa this morning, I coined a new term that is similar to schadenfreude- a variation of it, if you will. The term is allenfreude, and it means to want to defeat another person solely because that other person wants to defeat you.
I did a good job today focusing my attention on my own game, which is always a good idea but was made easier by the fact that there was no money on the line, and only two of us had bag-tags. But the entire round, one of the other guys in the group – we’ll call him Larry – made it clear that he was measuring the success of his round based on how his score matched up against mine. This culminated on the 22nd hole, after his birdie on hole 21 brought him to +2, one behind me. He walked over and breathed warmly toward the back of my neck- you know, ‘breathing down my neck.’ It was all for fun, but at that point something changed about my approach to the round. For the first time that day, I thought in terms of wanting to ‘beat’ someone rather than just play my best game. The shift in perspective was so palpable that I had to surrender to it, and I had to admit that it was a reactive thing, based on Larry’s obviously strong desire to best me. I tried to think of a word for that sensation, but couldn’t so I made one up: allenfreude. Feel free to use it yourself.
In case you’re wondering, allenfreude on this day worked for my game. From that point on I went from +1 to -2, birdying three of the final holes, and ‘won’ by two strokes. I still maintain, however, that it’s best to avoid allenfreude if possible. Focusng on ones own game is always best.