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Company loves misery

September 4, 2009

sad baby

How did we come to this place where our society values sadness?

Think about it: If someone is talking about what a bad day they’ve had, why do the rest of us feel compelled to pile our garbage on top? Why do the rest of us jump in with stories about how bad our days were too, as though we’re trying to top each other?

It’s almost like the day didn’t count if it was easy, or if things went well. You didn’t suffer? Well then you didn’t earn your dinner. Happiness is for the simple who have silver spoons and things on plates, but the rest of us work really hard and we’re the serious ones, we’re the adults so we’re unhappy.

My marketing professor once told me that a satisfied customer will tell 4 to 5 friends about his experience, while a dissatisfied customer will tell 9 to 10 friends about his experience. Why? Why do we quickly forget the good, and why are we so eager to share the bad?

Maybe it’s socially acceptable to be the victim – and even if you’re the victim who prevails in the end, you really have to play up that victim part – but no one wants to be the guy who has it all because he’s usually the bad guy. That girl who’s always smiling is probably just dumb (but we don’t call it that, we call it “flighty” or “simple”) … oh, and spoiled.

Why does misery validate my day?

Maybe it’s because if I’m not unhappy, I’m probably not working, because everyone knows that work – real work – is hard, and it’s impossible to do anything hard and be happy because of, or in spite of it. So if I’m not unhappy, I’m not working – at least not hard enough, and if I’m not working I have less value than someone who is working – if I have any value at all.

I’m not advocating being a bum. And I’m not suggesting that the good parts of your day are necessarily the best response to a friend who has had a very bad day. I’m just wondering how we got here and why.

So here’s a challenge for you. If you’re willing. If you’re brave. It’s Friday. For one week I dare you to only talk about the good. Only talk about the good things that happened that day. Only talk about the good things about people. Only talk about the good meals, the good customers, the good ideas, the good songs, etc. Let the bad fall by the wayside.

Because really, there are good things that happen every day. We’re so caught up trying to validate our lives by complaining about the bad, though, that it’s usually the good that gets forgotten.

One week. The weekend should make for an easier start. You in? Sign your name in the comments so you (and we) can keep yourself accountable.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Jacob permalink
    September 4, 2009 12:13 pm

    Hey Lex I like the dare, but speaking of only good isn’t healthy either. We as a body in Christ still need to be honest with people and ourselves. I know God has created and timed all things but that still doesn’t change our ability to be affected by what is going on. In Gen. 6 god is flat out angery at his creation, something he even knew would happen, but still the emotion was there. I agree that we people crowd around bad news, but if we can’t express the fustration, hurt, anger with our brother in hope that they may pray for us or even better speak into our lives. Then were is trust and actual faith in one another?

    • Lex permalink
      September 4, 2009 12:19 pm

      Hey Jake. Totally see your point. The uncomfortable and unfortunate should be shared, of course. I was thinking more along the lines of the little stuff – the bad drivers, annoying co-workers, silly mistakes, etc. – that so easily seems to take over. But I guess I didn’t clarify.

      And actually, the more I think about it, I think there’s a way to look at the “bigger” stuff that’s not all doom and gloom either.

      We were with some friends last night, and prayed over a guy who’s family is dealing with a boat load of serious medical issues all at once. The older, and wiser among us started out with, “Let’s pray for ____ because he and his family are being wonderfully tested right now.” Not that sickness is God’s tool for testing us, I don’t believe it is. The perspective, though, was that things are not great and we’re going to pray they get better, but looking ahead we know this is going to strengthen and mature everyone involved in the things of the Spirit.

      A lot of us could stand to change the way we petition prayer.

  2. September 4, 2009 12:26 pm

    Great challenge. I’m in.

  3. Lex permalink
    September 4, 2009 1:20 pm

    … says the brave man with three small boys and his own business. ;)

  4. Jacob permalink
    September 4, 2009 2:10 pm

    Good word Lex!!! Sound’s like my prayer this morning. I want to be one who is focused on the positive.

  5. Noeleen permalink
    September 4, 2009 6:31 pm

    I’m in : )

  6. September 4, 2009 10:17 pm

    Count me in!

  7. Lex permalink
    September 4, 2009 10:45 pm

    Woo-hoo! We’re going to be such a positive, up-beat group of people!

  8. Michael permalink
    September 5, 2009 7:31 am

    Hey Lex, Great post. We are up for a good dare. Loretta, Jennifer Haynes (visiting for the weekend) and I are sitting here this morning drinking coffee and up for the challenge!

  9. September 7, 2009 9:35 am

    a little late on the draw, but i’m there! love it. dare to be positive.

    • Lex permalink
      September 8, 2009 10:01 am

      Woot! Four birds with two comments … or something like that. ;)

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