Our due as humans

Too much? Or not enough? Time Square, photo by Joshua Earle via Unsplash

“Whereas 19th-century Americans perceived limits on how many people they could know, how much they should self-promote, how much excitement they should expect, 21st-century Americans are coming to expect that endless affirmation, unfettered anger, infinite cognitive power, unending entertainment, and constant companionship are our due as humans.”Susan J. Matt

This is one of those quotes that really hit home with me. Sometimes when I feel sorry for myself I have to stop and think how absurd I am being, to think there should be no limits on my life. Who do I think I am, that my little corner of the world should be so much easier or better than anyone else’s? Why do I expect to be free of sorrow, frustration and all the other emotions that are inseparable from being human?

For all of our advanced opportunity and education, there are things that previous generations knew better than we do. Limits are poorly understood in our ever-expanding culture. Any sort of constraint or restraint becomes something we are less and less willing to accept, because so much has been freely available to us. We have forgotten how to settle for less, and indeed, we often are taught not to see “settling for less” as a desirable goal.

If you are reading this, chances are that you have been blessed in ways that many people living today, to say nothing of generations throughout history, could not imagine. Is it enough? If you’re like me, the head will say “yes” but the heart adds “but if only I had…”

We often hear the advice “don’t postpone happiness.” Typically when I hear this, I think it means something along the lines of “buy the shoes” or “eat that dessert” or “splurge on that vacation.” But what if it means just the opposite? What if the best way to stop postponing happiness is to quit chasing after it, and look around at where we are now?

I’m going to try to stop postponing happiness, right now, by enjoying what is already mine. I’m going to savor a cup of tea, read a good book and think about how grateful I am to have a nice warm shower and clean, comfortable bed to sleep in tonight. I’m going to count my blessings. You are one of them! Please share some of your reasons to be grateful.  Let’s open each other’s eyes to all the ways we have more than our due as humans.


  1. Very well said. Often it’s not even “settling for less”, it’s realizing that every thing we add to our lives carries some burden and responsibility with it. Giant mansion needs extra upkeep. Hire a maid, there’s taxes, payroll, healthcare, etc… Sometimes simpler is better. None of that even begins to explore the issues created by substituting material things for a spiritual aspect to our lives either.

    • So true! Buying something, even if one doesn’t go into debt for it, carries all sorts of other costs– storage, maintenance, insurance, etc.– and as you point out, the really insidious factor is the focus on material things that robs us of the kind of spiritual wealth that money can’t buy.

  2. Good morning, Julia!
    It is a good question you ask, “What if the best way to stop postponing happiness is to quit chasing after it, and look around at where we are now?” I’m in your camp, in believing that we miss out on the present happiness by our selective focus on… (you name it)!
    Then, if having surveyed our situation, we find that something needs to change, we stop postponing happiness by making that change, even if the change brings us through temporary discomfort or extra effort.
    Even so, there’s a relief that comes with knowing that we’re heading in the right direction.
    Happy Monday!

    • Hi Susan! Yes, I think heading in the right direction is the key. So many of our habits are deeply ingrained and we have to un-learn them over a period of time, and that often involves effort and discomfort. It starts with awareness, but we need to be patient and persistent with ourselves, especially if the old patterns have been with us for many years. Happy Wednesday!

  3. Ron Wood

    Julia, what you have said in this post is so true. It seems we have to be older to recognize that fact and even then so many never do realize just how blessed they are.

    • Ron, I do think that getting older forces us to open our eyes to our blessings, if only because aging will inevitably mean experiencing more and more loss. Sad to say, as you point out, there are some who may die unhappy having never enjoyed the present because of looking back on what used to be, or wishing for what is increasingly unlikely to lie in the future. I’m trying not to make that mistake. Some days it’s easier than others. 🙂

  4. Carolyn

    I’m grateful for you being my friend. So happy you were able to see Jennifer at church. If all goes well we will be there sometime in the fall. You and Matt take care. Love and hugs .

    • Carolyn, I looked back over my shoulder at church and it was like seeing you and Jennifer sitting there, instead of Jennifer and her daughter! She looks so like you and her daughter looks so like she looked at that age. I guess that’s what 30+ years will do to my eyesight. 🙂 I too am grateful you are our friend! Let me know when you’re traveling our way and I’ll try to be here then. ❤

  5. Mickey Champagne

    Wow! I’ve been mulling over these same ideas for quite awhile, and you have managed to express them so very well. Thinking about what I am grateful for … a great husband, my health, and some wonderful friends and family … and so much more!!! Thank you for sharing!

    • Mickey, those are some splendid blessings. I appreciate your sharing them with us, as we all need to be aware of how much we may take for granted. I appreciate your presence here, and your comment!

  6. Lani

    Julia, I have to respond – I also believe we have been given so much being born in this country, ability to worship our God, we that are reading (or writing) here are all alive and breathing, able to enjoy the people that are also still here. I cannot imagine truly wanting more – life has been good and I am grateful. I also think we have a choice everyday to look at what we have and to look at what we don’t have. Whichever path we take, whichever choice we make, determines our happiness. It is an incredible choice that we have.

    • Lani, just seeing your comment here puts a smile on my face, because I cannot think of you without thinking of so many blessings of my childhood and youth. And you’re right, it is an incredible choice we have, one we make every day and hour of our lives. I’ve never been sure why the negatives so often win out in terms of what goes on in our head. It’s always so much better to choose the grateful path. Thank you for being here! ❤

  7. Beautifully articulated, Julia.

    I am grateful beyond measure that my youngest daughter recovered from postpartum depression after having her twins in April and the little girls are thriving. And I get to often love and care for them. That my actual heart is strong despite being treated for heart disease for 18 years. And that my figurative heart is not too tough, bitter as I feared once it might become as a teen and young woman–no, it is still responsive, tender and embraces life despite hard trials. I m grateful for God and angelic presence in this harsh world and for God’s Son, Jesus Christ–for my faith from which hope yet arises. and the opportunity to write and create in many ways, and to take a simple hike and note how infinitely intricate this earth’s systems and ways are… and this is just a small list.
    And thanks for your posts–this one, today.

    • Cynthia, thanks so much for sharing these blessings. As I read your thoughts, I felt encouraged and strengthened, especially in regard to the still-responsive heart. I’m one who often struggles with bitterness, and I draw special inspiration from those friends of mine who have survived much, and yet continue to shine. Thanks for brightening my day– and as blogger Misifusa says, SHINE ON! ❤

  8. Harry Sims

    I’m grateful to be alive.
    I’m grateful to be sober.
    I’m grateful to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Happiness perfuses this gratitude.

    • Harry, I’m so glad you have discovered the happiness that comes with a grateful heart. It’s something I need to learn again every day. Thanks for reminding me!

  9. Chris

    This struck a chord with me also, and I couldn’t agree more. My observation is that so many exist with an air of entitlement; when, in fact, we should all graciously display an attitude of gratitude. In doing so, happiness is a by-product. 😊 Have a wonderful week!

    • Chris, thanks for this comment. Like Harry, you affirm that happiness is embedded into gratitude. To neglect maintaining a thankful heart is to invite a dissatisfied and discontented life. I will have a wonderful week as long as I am able to keep that in mind! 🙂

  10. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. When I count my blessings I count you twice! I read recently that if we choose to live the simpler life once again, we’re really not taking a step backwards. I like that thought. Cottage, ocean, sight, smell, and sound is overwhelming in itself. “Never ever take this for granted” was the pledge I made to myself when we moved to 428. It’s a blessing everyday…. ♥️🙏🏻🇺🇸

    • Sheila, thanks so much for your consistent and encouraging presence here! I count you at least twice! ❤ Though I likely will never live on the ocean, I have drawn so much vicarious joy from imagining you having that daily blessing right outside your window. 428 lives in my mind as surely as the cozy cottages I've encountered in literature and movies over the years. And as with the best fictional homes, the furry or feathered former residents live on in my heart always, along with their human family. ❤ ❤ ❤

      • Sheila

        Your words warm my heart and my being. I recall so fondly Salty and Pasha commenting on Defeat Despair. You know what? I think they really did and helped us do the same! ✅🐾🐾💛

        • Sheila, I agree! I used to joke that Pasha was my greatest fictional character, but I honestly think he was basically the lively and funny dog I imagined him to be. Salty was adorable. And of course, Walter will forevermore be my favorite Sun Conure. ❤ If anybody else tries to call me "Juia" I'll say "that was Walter's name for me– please call me something else." No need to explain that Walter was a bird, hee-hee…

          • Sheila

            Good morning, Julia. ☕️ Walter was so endearing and his little presence is missed everyday.🐥 He greeted each day the same with his “eak-eak” the minute he heard activity at 428. Good morning, World!

            • 🙂 ❤ 🙂

  11. Connie Reed

    Thank you Julia for this beautiful blog. I wanted everyone I know to read this. So, I posted it to my Facebook. I hope you do not mind. I am definitely going to strive more to count my blessings and to be satisfied with all my good fortune that sits at my backdoor.

    • Connie, I’m truly honored that you posted this to Facebook; this blog is for sharing and you can do that in any way you want. You and I go back enough years that we can remind each other of how truly blessed we have been from the very earliest days of our lives. Life makes it hard to keep that in mind sometimes, but when we think about it, we know it’s true. Thanks for being here my friend! ❤

  12. MaryAnn Clontz

    Wow! Julia, Just yesterday, I was thinking how overwhelming it would be to stand in Times Square, with all the neon demanding my attention! I prefer taking a walk in the neighborhood or better still the ocean shore, water lapping my feet, or the mountains! Praising our Lord as I view His Creation!
    Max Lucado has a new book about to be launched: “How Happiness Happens”. Can hardly wait to dive in & glean from another of his inspiring, encouraging writings.
    Gratitude for the myriad blessings from our God keeps me able to press on!
    Send much love!

    • Mary Ann, Matt just left after spending most of the day with me, but we were out and didn’t get my held mail until this evening, so he missed his birthday package. Not to worry– he’ll be back day after tomorrow and will love the surprise. Thanks so much for thinking of him (and me)! Can’t wait until you come– and I’ll do my very best to stay OUT of the hospital this time so we don’t have to reschedule. 😀 ❤

  13. Alan Malizia

    Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta says: “Grow where you are planted.” Too often we miss the happiness right where we are in the pursuit of it elsewhere.
    Trials will come and go. it is inevitable. Sometime they seem endless. One after the other. Yet God gives us our respites. It is only the lack of good sense that keeps us from them.

    • Alan, nobody has ever accused me of having too much good sense! 😀 But age has a way of increasing our store of that valuable resource, whether we start with a little or a lot. I’m gradually learning to ask myself the question God asked Moses in Exodus 4:2: “What is that in your hand?” No kidding, sometimes I literally ask that question aloud of myself. Look what it did for Moses. 😀

  14. Mike C

    When you live in a consumer society whose economy is dependent on the individual family unit buying a new dishwasher every five years and a new car every year it is hard not to accumulate too much of everything. Anything else might be construed as Un American.
    I remember well going through my mom’s storage unit and doling it out-much to Goodwill as you say. I am determined not to put this on my kids. Someone has labeled this process “death cleaning.” What a happy thought. If you saw the movie ,”Everything must go.” it takes a lighter view. Of course we can blame this on our depression era relatives who saved everything and got rid of nothing.

    • Mike, I share your determination to die with a lot fewer possessions than I now have. I read the book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning and I quite liked it. The term might sound harsh at first, but so is the reality, and I think it’s a healthy thing to come to terms with it sooner rather than later. It can, as the book points out, be viewed as a very positive and unselfish process, thus rewarding. Jeff’s death was a real eye-opener for me because he had fewer personal possessions than almost anyone I know, being a contented sort who wasn’t into collecting material things. But even so, it was incredibly painful to go through his things and decide what to do with them– a process I still have not completed. His death, and that of his mother and my parents, all combined to convince me that I really, really, really hope I will live long enough (and have enough discipline) to die with very little for anyone to have to deal with. But that means, even if live a long time, I’d better get a good start on it now. I guess that’s my biggest personal ambition right now.

      I haven’t seen the movie you mention, but I bet I would like it. I’ll try to look it up. Yes, I suppose that our generation was heavily influenced by our parents’ experiences during the depression. I still love the phrase “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” I think it’s a close cousin to the current emphasis on recycling, simplifying, and conserving natural resources. Interestingly, that same depression era mentality that makes it hard to throw things away, also contributes to the impulse to acquire new stuff, especially when it’s a bargain. There’s a bit of the hoarder in all of us, I think, though it’s stronger in some than in others. I’m in the “some.”

  15. Mike

    There is also a new series on Net Flix “Dead to me,” with Christian Applegate about a woman who has recently lost her spouse. I have only seen the first two episodes and thought the acting quite good. Not sure what to make of it. Let me know what you think. The movie Imentioned stars Bill Murray. It is pretty funny. Went to Marietta arts festival yesterday. It was way too hot= so we did not stay long. One of the highlights was the children’s chalk art in the square.

    • I haven’t heard of that series, but I don’t get Netflix. I wonder whether it will eventually be available on DVD? If so, I will get it at the library. That’s how I see most of the series that aren’t on PBS or Amazon Prime, those are the only two channels I get. BTW I love Bill Murray so that’s another reason to watch that video. Right now I’m enjoying the most recent PBS version of Middlemarch and it’s so good that I’ve resolved to read the book again. What a masterpiece. Speaking of which, the children’s chalk art sounds so fun! I have always had a good impression of Marietta. It may have changed but it used to seem like a really nice place to visit or to live.

  16. Mike C B.

    It has a really nice little central square with Gazebo and lots of nice little restaurants including the Austrailian pie shop with all kinds of Australian fare including vegemite They also have a nice PHO restaurant. TOO.

    • Have you tried vegemite? I can’t quite imagine liking it. The pies sound better! 😀

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