31 May 2006

Diary of Gratitude

Recent theorists of happiness have suggested that there is no direct relation between material prosperity and our sense of personal well-being. Forget winning the pools or coming into an unexpected legacy: that way certain contentment does not lie. Count your blessings instead. That's their argument anyway. Nothing brand new in that, but they have come up with a novel suggestion. My co-blogger Skipper and I have debated this issue with colleagues in our own version of the Atheneum - which happens to sell Hyde's expensive and virtually tasteless bitter.

The issue of happiness in 2006 also takes into account the Age Wars which Andrew Rawnsley has written about. Is our (older) generation really privileged compared with today's youngsters? Well, I'm not so sure - but I certainly do think we have much to be grateful for - historically. So in keeping with Tal Ben Shahar's recommendation that we consciously list the positives in our lives, I am taking a look at those elements which fate has dealt out which might help to get through those moments of social despair and long dark nights of the soul.

Thanks Mum, Thanks Dad
Where human beings are born is a totally random and arbitrary matter. I could just as easily have been an Ethiopian goatherd or a Brazilian rainforest pygmy, scratting for life amidst insects and dead leaves. Instead, I was born into a relatively prosperous and civilzed western European democracy, with a long tradition of practical industry, individual liberty, and cultural richness.

The only direction in which I can think of directing my gratitude are my own mother and father, and they can't hear me any more. Nevertheless, I like to think there was pleasure around that Christmas time which resulted in my emergence in the summer nine moths later - exactly on the day Hitler and Stalin agreed their so-called 'non-agression' pact, complete with its secret protocols which sent thousands to their deaths. Sometimes, it's difficult to get the balance right.

1 comment:

skipper said...

Maybe you should rather thank Messers Molotov and Ribbentrop who provided you with such an unwholesome birthday present. Their legacy indirectly helped produce the world which has treated us so unreasonably kindly.