So today on twitter I saw a post that quoted a study showing that most Americans were unhappy. I wonder if people are unhappy, are depressed, or do they just have unrealistic expectations for their lives? I would venture to say all of those things are probably true. Right now we live in a fear based culture. The news focuses on the worst case scenarios. In this bad economy many people are teetering on the edge, seeing all the negativity can make people become more fearful of losing what they have. It leads to resentment of both those who have more, and those who have less. Our culture spends a lot of time showing us what we don’t have without encouraging us to look at what we do have.

I also think sometimes we need to realign our perspective. Bad things will happen to each of us, it is inevitable. It is how we deal with those situations that makes us unhappy or not. I have worked with many people that feel like every bad thing that happens to them is an intentional attack on them. Trauma can make people think that way, so I get it. But if we put ourselves in the position of having no power than nothing ever changes. Life situations matter, poverty, oppression, and trauma all matter as to how we experience life. Even in the most difficult circumstances we have all seen examples of people that claim their grief and go on. Elizabeth Edwards comes to my mind. She lost a child and then got terminal cancer. She disclose she was depressed for a period of time after the loss of her son, but she didn’t let that event define her. She got up and kept going.

Studies have shown that grateful people are happier people. I would speculate that is because grateful people are focusing on what is positive in their lives, not just the negatives.