The Tyranny of Gratitude

ma's had these rubber floor mats for as long as I have a memory

(photo by Michael W. May)

I agree that gratitude is good. But the Happiness Pushers aren’t necessarily doing everyone a service. Some people are going through terrible hardships: the loss of a loved one, the incarceration of a loved one, a serious illness in the family, divorce. The list goes on and on. We can’t always be happy and “on” with bells jangling, lights beaming.  So the Happiness Pushers become unwanted enforcers of levity, not merely optimists and cheerleaders.

With people suffering from depression or other mental disorders who don’t feel that sparkly all the time (myself included), the enforced happiness / gratitude attitude can simply wear us down, make us feel deficient and shamed–not at all a positive.

There is a time and place for everything, to everything a season. Your happiness can be my sadness, and conversely, your sadness, my happiness. I agree (most of the time) with the “fake it till you make it” mantra and other positive self-talk. I subscribe. But if I’m not beaming with joy all the time, please don’t try to make me feel bad about it. Ah, I almost caught myself saying “don’t make me feel bad about it” which would also make me co-dependent.  Heaven forbid! Just trying to be real here.

And by the way, Happy New Year!