Gratitude and the happiness imperative

emotions 1



To:        Well-intentioned Happiness Hustlers

From:  Walking Wounded

Cc:        Oblivious bystanders

Date:   The fifth of never

Re:        Gratitude and the happiness imperative


In response to your concerns expressed for my lack of apparent outward displays of “happiness”:

I thank you for your genuine and kind interest. Also, I thank you for sharing your research-based advice regarding the value of “counting my blessings” and the correlation with positive feelings.

It is on this point I would like to dwell for a moment, and consider some alternative perspectives:

a)    How does comparing my luck to that of some poor farmer who just lost his entire family and all his worldly possessions in a random tsunami, make me (or anyone) feel happier? “At least you’re not that guy” invalidates how I feel and dishonors “that guy’s” humanity.

b)    A lack of this feeling we call “happy” is not synonymous with being ungrateful. I am fully aware that I won the lottery in life, and I am genuinely grateful for it. However, that gratitude does not always (not every moment of every day) translate into a positive buzz. Reminding me of what I already know about how great I have it adds an unnecessary sense of guilt to a temporary, though real, state of something other than what humans generally experience as happiness.

c)    Are you encouraging me to count my blessings and be grateful for what I have so that you are not inconvenienced by my sadness, disappointment, or other non-happy emotion?

d)    Is not happiness only one of the many possible emotions that constitutes the varied blessings of this rich human experience? Why should I not also give thanks for this ability to feel and express anger, angst, grief, and more?

Believing that you are completely well-intentioned, I offer you these counter-recommendations for when you want to “buck up” your fellow citizens of the civilized world:

a)    Listen, and offer the occasional sympathetic “grrr” or “sigh”. Weep with those who weep, even. If you can.

b)    Don’t talk about yourself. It’s not about you.

c)    Leave the room. Seriously, it’s ok. Misery does not always love or need company, particularly when that company is trying to get him (or her) to be someone else. If you can’t simply “be there” with the alternative-to-happy emotions, you probably should be elsewhere.

d)    Slide the bowl of chocolates down the table on your way out.

8 thoughts on “Gratitude and the happiness imperative

  1. Minuscule Moments says:

    Love it, when we are not happy, we should not have to pretend otherwise. No person can tell you how you should deal with life’s challenges, there is the beauty…. we are not all made from the same vine but I bet most of us love a good shoulder to lean on and yes that slab of chocolate, that great comfort food. Excellent and unique I get tired of reading sites that copycat other sites. You are travelling your own creative path and I wish you well, I say that with a smile.

  2. Miss Britt says:

    I am basically a professional happiness hustler (although I usually use the term happiness advocate), but I don’t believe:

    In telling people that they should be happier
    That gratitude is about comparison. At all.
    That anyone should feel “happy” all the time.

    You’re hanging with the wrong hustlers. 😉

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