Everything is Amazing, But Nobody is Happy

Life comes at you in waves, some up, some down. Yesterday Christine and I had a few surprises that are going to be challenging. Sometimes, when you’re skipping along the sidewalk a bully comes along and pushes you into the mud. While life deals you unexpected challenges, it is your choice how you frame them.

Sometimes people rob us. Sometimes bad stuff happens to us, sometimes to people we love.  But wallowing in resentment and self-pity is self-destructive, and vengeance and violence create more injustice. The only good answer is… deal with it (however you must) and move on.

We’ve become a society of whiners who panic at the slightest setbacks. Things are happening right now that may change that mindset for many generations. One of the best things that came out of the Great Depression were ethical business leaders who were grateful for the opportunity to add value to the world.

Today, too many people are focused on what they can get, not what they can give.

I was talking to my father last night. He grew up on a farm in northern Minnesota during the Great Depression. He said many times during the 1930s his family went months on less than 25 cents. Roosevelt sent agents out to slaughter their cattle without compensation (the government wanted to reduce the supply of cattle to increase prices – it didn’t work). Eventually the government took their farm because they couldn’t pay their taxes.

Many years before the government killed my Grandfather’s livestock and stole his farm, he was drafted into the First World War and gassed on the battlefield. He survived, but it almost killed him. His lungs were reduced to 50% capacity and all his teeth fell out. He had recurring bouts of illness over decades where he spent months in the hospital while my Grandmother ran the farm and raised four boys.

You know what? They lived to be over 90 and I never once heard them complain about how hard they had it. In fact, they thought that life was amazing.

I recall my Grandmother’s first airline flight and how she couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was.

You can’t see how wonderful the world is while you’re complaining.

When we open our eyes, we see that life is truly amazing, how blessed we are, and that happiness is a choice.

This video brings that message home:

I found this video via Mark J. Perry who publishes the economics blog CARPE DIEM. I love economics. But what I love most about Mark J. Perry’s blog is how he consistently finds economic news that is POSITIVE. Thanks for the good news Mark!

11 thoughts on “Everything is Amazing, But Nobody is Happy”

  1. I agree 100% My grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Never once did they complain. My grandfather passed away in 1992 but my grandmother recently turned 91. She worked as seamstress and he as a fur cutter raising a blind daughter. They always worked hard for their own success. That has been passed on. My mother has NEVER asked for a handout and even worked in downtown Atlanta for 15 years, walking to the bus stop with her dog and taking a train.
    Our success should be determined by our own striving not what someone else can give to us.
    hhtp://journeydeeper.blogspot.com
    hhtp://30thingsby30.wordpress.com

  2. Steve —

    Excellent points.

    A terrible shame your family endured this heavy-handed madness. A side of the Great Depression I was not aware of.

    I ran across the video material some time ago (I used it on a Gratitude Watch), and then YouTube pulled it. It’s good to see it again — it serves up an excellent point in a humorous way that makes it easier to stomach. Glad it’s up again.

  3. We are spoiled indeed. No war story to tell here, but I grew up in Taiwan, and remember the time when there were only three channels on TV. (There are many cable channels in Taiwan now, but cable is still often referred to as “4th channel”, a term that survived the time.) And I remember dialing up to BBS systems instead of internet. There were no cell phones, and when you dial a phone number, you actually had to dial. That wasn’t even that long ago. And we didn’t have brocolli.

    We are spoiled, really.

  4. @Kevin Lock, Thanks for stopping by and for the retweet. Holocaust survivors? Whew! That’s incredible. They sound like amazing people. Another one of the amazing things in life.

    @Daniel, I didn’t know about it either until the last few days. One of those things I guess they just didn’t talk about. My Dad told me recently while we were discussing the current economy and the comparisons to the Great Depression. As of right now, it isn’t even close.

    @Kelvin, I grew up with only 3 channels too and I loved them. I don’t like the word spoiled. It’s okay to have lots of stuff. It’s fine to be wealthy and eat well. It’s the complete lack of gratitude by some that amazes me. The lack of courage and thick skin also amazes me. People run from the first sign of conflict or disagreement. They also get offended at the drop of a hat. In Americans this problem seems to be present in baby boomers and after. They expect comfort and wealth by default and forget that it comes at a price. That price is giving and caring and producing. It comes from morality and ethics and wisdom.

  5. Steve – Great post! The thing that jumped right out at me was “Today, too many people are focused on what they can get, not what they can give.”

    The sad truth of things are that we are living in a “gimme” time when more joy and happiness will be gaind simply through our giving. Don’t get me wrong – I love to “get” things and win things (as I recently did from Christine’s books – thank you again for that) but the old saying that it’s better to give than receive still holds true today.

    Also – “Happiness is a choice.” So true!!! We can be happy through the rough times and trust me – there will be many rough times but do what you can with what you have and it will be easy to choose to be happy!

    Giving – having the “spirit of Christmas” through out the entire year would do this world a lot of good!

    Thanks for letting us post our 2cents worth!

  6. Hi Steve, thank you for the story and the video. Your grandparents’ story is a great contrast to how self-entitled people have become. Majority of people are living in their own little world and just thinking about what they want. Sad, really.

    The video is most appropriate and entertaining :) I love when he talks about the plane… how people are not contributing. It’s actually the opposite, their body weight is pulling the plane down, especially with obesity’s problem today, which is another reflection of how much (little) people truly care these days (even about themselves!).

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  8. I’ve seen people who barely earn a very low salary but they are relaxed and always happy. I found them to be happy from the inside.

    And I’ve seen/known people who earn CEO level salaries but they are always worried, tense, depressed, eating one pill to another for anything from depression to insomnia.

    And I’ve come to realize that it’s all about your heart and inner state of mind. If you accept whatever happens to you as fate/destiny and stop worrying about what happenED to you sometime back, life becomes really wonderful.

    But if you just like to talk and complain about every other bad thing that happened to you, you only burn into a fire that you lit yourself.

  9. Gregg Easterbrook looks at this phenomenon in The Progress Paradox. What we consider minimum standards of living have inured us to wonder and delight. Nothing is special when we live as though luxury is a necessity.

    In addition, the ability to choose wisely and well atrophies when there is no need to choose.

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