The psalmist declared that it is good to give thanks to God (Psalm 92:1). Unfortunately, many of us have a habit of complaining. We overlook the rich blessings that attend us every day and focus on occasional frustrations.
Some time ago, a comedian named Louis C.K. appeared on the Conan O’Brien show. In a segment titled “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy,” Louis mocks the sense of entitlement that turns us into complainers. He tells of taking his seat on a plane that — amazingly — offered free high speed wireless internet access. But when the flight crew told the passengers that the service had broken down, the man sitting next to Louis cursed in disgust. In an exasperated tone, Louis exclaimed to O’Brien, “How quickly the world owes him something he didn’t even know existed 10 seconds ago!”
By a strange bent in human psychology, we tend to forget the good things we enjoy and focus only on what we lack. Professor Vicki Medvec did a study of Olympic medalists and found that bronze medalists were measurably happier than silver medalists. Why? Because bronze medalists knew they had come close to not winning any medal at all; they were grateful just to be on the medal stand. Silver medalists, on the other hand, tended to focus on how close they had come to winning gold. They were less grateful for the privilege of taking their place on the medal stand because they wanted to occupy the highest place. Most of us can see ourselves in the silver medalist. As someone once said, it is a rare person who, when his cup runs over, does not complain about the size of his mug.
When the psalmist admonished himself to praise God and “forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2), he showed us the way to deeper happiness. How would our lives change if, instead of complaining about inconveniences and disappointments, we daily gave thanks for the people who have loved us and the good things we have enjoyed? Why not find out?
In Christ’s service,
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