Do You Know How Good You Have It?

You don’t know how good you have it.

That’s what my mother used to say when I’d whine or complain. I used to hate it when she said that because I didn’t know what it meant. My only perspective on life, was my perspective. That’s the only perspective any of us have. We can try to take another perspective, but it is imaginary. We can only assume we know how other people see the world.

I have no idea what it was like to live in the Jim Crow south. I’ve never had my brothers slaughtered in a foreign war. I’ve never worked for 17 cents an hour. I’ve never known a summer without air conditioning. I’ve never been trapped in an abusive relationship. I’ve never been unable to make money.

I used to resent her words…

But I know she meant well. So I will pass it on to my children…

And I will modify it a bit…

I will tell them…

Be grateful. Your happiness depends upon it.

10 thoughts on “Do You Know How Good You Have It?”

  1. “You don’t know how good you have it.” – you’re right, you don’t, and neither will your kids. The challenge with statements like that is that someone will always come up with something worse than your current situation or something that you could never possibly relate too.

    “You don’t know how good you have it – you’ve never seen your entire family slaughtered before your eyes in a bloody genocide”… Yet for someone who has had their entire family killed, someone will no doubt find something worse in the world (or something they can’t relate to) and tell them “You don’t know how good you have it”. You don’t know what it’s like to be disabled, live with cancer, go bankrupt, lose a child to a drunk driver, survive a holocaust, be raped, or whatever else you’ve possibly got.

    But it brings awareness?! Does it bring an awareness from which one can be productive or does it just point out all the crap that goes on in the world so that we can thank our lucky stars we’re not one of ‘them’?

    (Steve, your modified statement is what the other one should be replaced with – nicely done!)

  2. hey Steve

    Good reflections, one factor which often reminds me to be grateful, is past experiences. I cannot allow myself to forget unfortunate events. I can recount a list of items that normally break or destroy someone’s life. One could take someone else’s perspective, but like you said it is imaginary. It doesn’t have to be imaginary if you know another perspective; you know it, because you held it before. Life has a way of giving people perspectives if you will. Just ask those that live in the inner city projects, a small town in Georgia, or any place other than your dwelling.

  3. Hi Steve,
    A post I can related to closely. My mum also says this!
    Sometimes, I feel really guilty when she says things like that. I suppose we can all be a bit more appreciative and grateful.

    Lately I have noticed that we realize that value of something or someone, only when its (they) are gone.

    Thought provoking post. Thank you

  4. William, Steve’s right…it does bring awareness. And, that awareness is what motivates us to share what we have.
    When people are deep down in a mudhole, who do they look to for help? Certainly not others mired in the same hole…so with gratitude comes a knowledge that we are required to share. It’s not a “you may share because you’ve got lots”.
    If you truly feel grateful…it’s a “you must share your blessings” because true gratitude brings awareness of the needs of others and the ability of ourselves to help.

  5. Monica, Steve’s last sentence is right and it has nothing to do with the original statement which is the point. The first statement is completely useless and actually serves no benefit to anyone other than the person saying it because it gives them some sort of superiority complex… I’m not disputing Steve’s final statement – just questioning the usefulness of the first.

  6. My mother had a similar saying “there’s always somebody worse off than you”. It really does help to stop and be grateful whenever you find yourself wallowing in self pity. And these days we dont have to go far on the Internet to find plenty of reasons to be grateful.

  7. My mother always used to tell me how she had to walk miles to go to school…Living in the Philippines for 3 years opened my eyes to just how abundant my life here is. Thanks for the reminder!

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