Our due as humans
“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.