Do you sometimes hear yourself complaining, just to contribute to the conversation?
I’m ashamed to admit I’ve sometimes been sucked into the, “You think you’ve got it bad? Well, listen to this!” competition and wondering afterward when it became a good thing to be seen as the biggest victim.
Maybe it is a result of entertainment overload. In fiction, whether TV, movies or books, it is necessary for the hero to overcome the forces working against him or her. To maintain drama, one difficulty follows another until the end of the story. With serialized stories, the tension does not resolve until the end of the series. When one challenge is overcome it is followed by an even greater difficulty. There is no time to enjoy the victory and experience peace. This may be good television, but it is no way to live.
We all want to be the hero of our own life story, so maybe we are trying to keep our audience interested by emphasizing our struggles.
Whatever the motive, too many of us are dwelling on our disappointments and failing to enjoy the good times, at least in our conversations.
This can lead to a habit of negativity, of looking for things to complain about and overlooking the blessings in our circumstances and in the people who share our lives.
Happy people have younger hearts, younger arteries, and recover more quickly from surgery. Studies have shown happy people cope better with pain, have lower blood pressure, and have longer life expectancy than unhappy people.
The studies also suggest that happy people may have stronger immune systems — they’re less likely to get colds and flu viruses. And when they do, their symptoms tend to be mild.
Not surprisingly, happy people are better at looking after their health, too. When people’s happiness levels improve, so do their health behaviors. They exercise more, wear sunscreen, and go for regular checkups.
In my fiction writing I need to keep throwing difficulties into my heroine’s path, so the story won’t be boring for the readers. It can be inspirational to read about others overcoming seemingly impossible odds. However, most of us would prefer not to deal with serial killers, gangsters and other extreme dangers in our real lives.
We can choose to portray ourselves as the tragic heroes of our personal mini-series or we can remember that happiness is a choice. Most people, when given the option, will choose to spend time with upbeat, positive people rather than drama queens and complainers, every time.
Unhappiness is not only a choice…it is highly contagious…but the antidote is readily available: equal measures of gratitude and joy.