If you know people who appear to be happy, rest assured, it’s not because their lives are easier than yours. It’s not because they’ve got it better. It’s not because they don’t have problems. Everyone has problems. In fact, their problems might be much worse than yours. So why are they content, when you’re so miserable? Because they choose to be content, and you choose to be miserable. At the very least, they choose to be positive about their lives when they’re in public. Not because they’re hiding from their issues, but simply because they don’t want to impose their suffering on you.
We could all stand to learn from these “happy in spite of it” folks. Of course, we all know the opposite type as well. We see them on Facebook. We bump into them on the elevator. They might be a friend. You might have them in your family (I don’t, thank God). I’m talking about the type of person who is very “honest”. Not honest in an enlightening, brave sort of way, but in a cheap, worthless, selfish, destructive sort of way. They wear their miseries on their sleeve and eagerly share their most personal and intimate problems with anyone who will listen. A “conversation” with them is merely a tour through their troubles — financial troubles, health troubles, relationship troubles, kid troubles, parent troubles, emotional troubles, troubling troublesome troubles, troubles of all kind. And, worst of all, insinuated in these unsolicited rants, or even said blatantly, is the assumption that you OWE it to them to listen because their life is so much more difficult than yours. They assume this because 1) That’s just how narcissists operate and 2) You don’t reveal YOUR intimate and personal struggles to them. In their world, that means you don’t have them.
And these people have ever the more effective means to release their demons in public and spew their darkness on strangers. They can use the Internet like a Weapon of Mass Depression. They write cryptic complaints obviously targeted at one particular individual, but posted passive aggressively on Facebook or Twitter for all to see. It’s a ploy for attention, of course, but also a weird, perverse symptom of a weird, perverse superiority complex. I just skimmed my “news feed” and learned that one of my Facebook “friends” apparently “can’t stand her mother” and is “sick and tired of how her family treats her UGH”. I don’t know this person. Should I know this about her? Is that the sort of thing that the entire world should be privy to? Well, if the world actually does revolve around you, then I suppose so.
I’ve often stated that I think we should absolutely speak our minds publicly. We should share our thoughts about issues that matter. We don’t have to go around blowing sunshine and rainbows in everyone’s face all day. But there’s a difference between saying “here are my thoughts and ideas about a subject or relevant issue” and saying “here’s my self obsessed litany of personal complaints”. It’s commonly insisted that you should never talk about politics, religion, or controversial issues in public. Well, that’s a problem for me, because that’s pretty much all I want to talk about. And I’ve noticed the people who say this usually leave out the next part, although they think it silently: “Don’t discuss politics or religion… Because I want to gossip about my family and whine about my health problems.”
All I’m saying is that life is full of peaks and valleys. But just because you’re in a valley doesn’t mean you should try pull the next guy off his peak. Maybe you should ask him how he got up there, and then start climbing again.
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