Pathological Scarcity of Gratitude

The world is the best that it has ever been, but the average person wouldn’t know it. This is partly due to us all getting fed a steady diet of fear and negativity from almost all media outlets. Regardless of political affiliation, your personalized echo chamber will tell you how “the other side” is ruining the country and skew or invent statistics to demonstrate the validity of their claims. But by almost any standard, today is the best day to be alive and tomorrow will be even better.

It’s hard to imagine life before our modern conveniences and there are too many to list: electricity, refrigeration, sanitation, heating and air conditioning, reliable medicine, dependable agriculture, etc. And although it is true that these resources are unequally distributed from a global perspective, even the poorest of the poor are better off today than they were just 50 years ago.

But what’s striking is that despite all of this abundance, depression rates in developed countries are rising. And it seems there is no shortage of complaints about various injustices and personal transgressions. It’s almost as if the more people are given, the less they appreciate and the more they complain.

There’s a pervasive pathological scarcity of gratitude infecting our society and I think it stems from a lack of imagination and a lack of empathy. Most people don’t understand how good their lives are and are unable or unwilling to imagine themselves in the shoes of those who came before them. They judge previous generations by the standards of today, not understanding that the standards of today could only come into existence by evolving from previous standards. The only reason you exist is because some monkey ancestor of yours killed a mammoth with a spear and fended off starvation for HIS tribe.

The next time the train is delayed, or you have to wait an extra five minutes for your food at a restaurant, try to remember that some people walk barefoot to work and eat only when food becomes available. The next time you complain about your job, remember that the cobalt in your smart phone was probably mined by a teenager working over 100 hours a week in an open pit mine, with no prospects of climbing the corporate ladder. The next time you want to complain about something, think about how you can help to fix the problem instead of being an ungrateful, spoiled and selfish human being.