What’s So Bad About Feeling Grateful?

Feeling GoodIn 1968, George Peppard and Mary Tyler Moore starred in the movie What’s So Bad About Feeling Good? The story is about a virus with strange symptoms: it makes people feel happy. Gracious, we can’t have that! So in the movie, the government finds a cure for it.

I think of that every now and then while maintaining my “Thanks 365” page. I have no trouble finding things to feel thankful for, but I’m continually amazed that so many people seem determined to find things to complain about instead, as if thankfulness were a bad thing and the happiness that goes along with it an unhealthy condition.

Here’s an example: We live in a big old 100-year-old brick farmhouse. The way it’s constructed, with brick against tile blocks and the plaster interior wall applied directly to the block with no airspace between, makes it impossible to properly insulate. For many years we heated the place with a fuel oil furnace, and it was very expensive. Several years ago, however, we put in a good chimney liner and bought a wood stove. Nowadays, we burn wood for our primary heat source and use the old furnace only to supplement it, as it’s not big enough to keep up the house comfortable in windy or very cold weather. As a result, our heating bills were cut by approximately 80%.

This is a good thing, right? One would think it would be cause for rejoicing. Especially since file0001755147821Craig actually enjoys cutting and splitting firewood and takes pleasure in the process of heating with wood.

But there are two ways to look at it. You can complain when the furnace comes on, envisioning dollar signs going up the chimney, and cuss the wood burner for not being big enough, or the house for being too large and/or poorly designed; or you can be thankful for all the thousands of dollars we’re no longer required to spend to keep our house from freezing. (And yes, it is an annual savings of thousands.)

Or, you might consider selling the house and getting something smaller and easier to heat.

I get the impression some people (and by “some,” I mean “many”) consider griping a virtue and discontent a valuable asset — as if finding fault and focusing on the world’s flaws puts them at an advantage somehow.

Well, I’ve got news for them: it’s not, and it doesn’t.

Complain all you want. As for me, I’ll rejoice in my many varied and amazing blessings.


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