Why are people always lamenting about what’s not instead of enjoying what’s?

By | May 25, 2017

Strangely enough, it seems that the world is chock full of people who would like to wallow in a state of constant misery rather than enjoy moments of happiness. I am not saying we should be jumping with joy when the deck is stacked against us. We all go through our down days, we all have our weak moments, but we do come out of it. However, there are some people who are perpetually despondent, constantly cribbing about something or another, never satisfied with the world around them and steeped in a woe is me attitude. Their base emotion, most of the times, is haranguing about what they don’t have instead of appreciating what they have.

I have observed that certain people find the glass half empty all the time, sorry to use that cliché. I am fine with people saying that the glass is half empty when the situation merits that observation—helps us avoid normalcy bias; however, doing it all the time is a big pain in the keister. The problem with many people on third rock from the Sun is not that they don’t have enough, it is that they don’t know how to appreciate or hold onto what they have already. They covet things other people have—what their friends have, their neighbors have, their competitors have.

Many of us embrace unhappiness and reject happiness because it is great to play the victim and have people shower us with sympathies. At least, for the briefest of moments, we are the cynosure of all eyes. And many of us live for those moments… makes us feel special, makes us feel important, makes us feel wanted.

Happiness-Sadness mask

Why do people find misery in moments of happiness? How do people manage to find a ‘wrong’ in a sea of ‘right’? Designed by Freepik, modified by Omygdala.

Here are a few “misery templates” you’ll find people using daily to be sad instead of being happy with what they have or are experiencing at the moment.

  • On a bright sunny day, they’ll lament that it is too hot and crave for rain. And when it is raining, rue missing sunny days. If it is a windy day, they’ll wax eloquent about missing days when everything is very still and quiet as a mouse. However, if there is no cool wind blowing on a blistering hot day, they will be off their rockers. When ’tis spring they’ll miss the summer; however, when it’s summer they’ll say that fall is the best season. When the fall finally arrives, they’ll say, “Ugh!!! ’tis going to snow soon.” And in the depth of winter they’ll miss the spring.
  • On a vacation, they’ll be worried stiff about what’s happening at work, and when at work, crave for a vacation. During a vacation, while they are at a beach sipping margaritas, they’ll somehow find an excuse to lament, “Bummer, next week my vacation ends!
  • Get livid that clothes are not drying fast enough on a cloudy and humid day. And they will be unhappy still when clothes are as dry as a poppadom on a hot and dry day.
  • Will be exasperated that the fruit tree in their yard doesn’t have any leaves and hasn’t blossomed to bear any fruits, yet. However, the same people will express frustration, complain and run around like a headless chicken when they get a bumper harvest and can’t figure out what to do with all the produce.
  • Will opine that the focus should be on the journey and not the destination; “it is the journey that should be enjoyed,” they’ll chirp. However, when on the road, they will be bored, fidgety, agitated and glum. Like a kid, they will keep on asking, “how long does it take to get there; how much farther and are we there yet?
  • Are unhappy that the weekend got over very fast and it is Monday already, and on a Friday they are unhappy that they haven’t finished everything they had started and cannot wait for Monday to arrive to catch up on things.
  • Will be pissed off if there is nothing on television; will be miffed if there are too many shows on TV that conflict with each other.
  • Are unhappy if their lover or their spouse is busy and is unable to return their calls or their messages. However, if their partner would like to spend some quality time with them then they will blow a gasket about lack of space and feeling suffocated.
  • Are unhappy if they have too much money; will complain about the huge tax load. Just the right amount of money and they’ll still have a long face because they just don’t how to value the feeling of “just enough.
  • Will sell their soul in pursuit of fame and fortune, and once they are a celebrity will not know how to live under the constant scrutiny of public attention. When they reach the summit they will crave for privacy and anonymity. At the other end of the spectrum, people without fame or fortune will fantasize about being a superstar and will be quite willing to sell their body and soul to achieve celebrity status.
  • Those who are white are not happy with their skin tone and will apply tanning lotion or go to a tanning booth to look brown and those who are brown will apply fairness cream to become white.
  • A two bedroom apartment is too small for all the things we have.” Next, buy a three/four bedroom McMansion and crib that the house is horrible because they have to spend an inordinate amount of time to keep it clean and tidy.
  • A small car is too small for our family.” Buy a bigger car and then rant that it is too big for the Indian roads.
  • One flat is not enough.” Then, go into debt and buy another one or a few more. Next, realize that the monthly payments are draining their coffers and leaving them with nothing; not even an emergency fund. They were depressed then; they are worried, scared silly and dispirited now.

It seems there is no satisfying many of us. Some of us will find a way to squeeze out a drop of unhappiness from a perfectly happy moment. How many of us are guilty of making heaven hell? I think many people are so miserable and wounded on the inside that they have forgotten how to be happy. They fail to appreciate the beautiful moments of life and are busy sabotaging happy moments to make themselves sad.

So, is there a fix?

Yes, there is.

Actually, it is all on us, most of the times; it is our choice to be happy or unhappy in life. The things that we hold onto, things that we use as an excuse to be happy act only as a crutch, and they’ll always remain a crutch. Whenever the crutch “malfunctions”, and it will, you’ll hit the dreaded invisible speed bump and will be ejected into the world of depression, misery or unhappiness. True happiness lies within, hidden… to be discovered. If you are not happy on the inside, which requires a conscious effort, you’ll never be happy on the outside, artificially. You can, maybe, fake it for a few days; eventually, you’ll hit the ground hard, and as they say, it is not the fall that kills hurts you, but the sudden stop at the end.

“The best things in life aren’t things.”—Art Buchwald

You can go on a buying spree and get the best smart phone, the most expensive car, the most opulent house, the most beautiful jewelry, but true happiness will elude you. Doing all these things may grant you temporary happiness, however, long term, you’ll still be miserable on the inside. If wealth, fame and fortune gave people happiness then we wouldn’t have many celebrities offing themselves, almost regularly. Most of them end it because they are depressed and “dead” on the inside. Even when they have everything, they fail to find meaning, purpose and value in most things in life.

Likewise, if a sense of humor was the most attractive character attribute in a person, then all the comedians would have been married to the supermodels. It doesn’t work that way in life; it is a lie. And, as Tyler Durden says in the movie Fight Club, “The things that you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.” A simple life is very underrated, I often say.

Find happiness within and everything without will blossom and be beautiful and warm again. Otherwise, you will forever be embraced by the bitter cold of the winter of discontent. Your laments… your miseries… your anxieties. Your choice. After all, ’tis your happiness. Choose wisely!

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