By Tom Holmes
Are you having trouble feeling thankful as we approach Turkey Day?
When I feel grumpy and keep repeating to myself that life isn't fair, it's often because I am comparing myself to someone else. For example, I'm part of the 99%, and it's easy to compare myself to the 1% and think that if I had their wealth, I'd be a lot happier. You know, it's that "when I win the lottery" fantasy that we indulge in from time to time.
My departed father-in-law used to say, "Comparisons are odious."
Here's the reality. If I get a $20,000 raise in my annual salary, I would feel great, right? But what if through the grapevine I learn that my coworker got a $30,000 hike in salary? I can just see myself unraveling over the news, "Why that so and so. He/she doesn't do half the work I do. He/she spends all his/her time sucking up the boss." You know how the rant goes.
And then you get home and dump your funk on the spouse and the kids.
Notice, compared to the salary you were making, you are now rolling in dough. But then you learn that your "colleague" got more than you, and the glass is suddenly empty. . .or at least has sprung a leak.
OK, so as we approach Thanksgiving there's a lot of unfairness in life. That's a fact, and in one way or another we all victims of something or someone. So how do you conjure up this feeling of gratitude we're all supposed to have on the last Thursday of November, when your life is much harder than a lot of other folks you know.
Suggestion. See if changing what you compare yourself to helps you get in the holiday spirit. For example, a recent New York Times article had the headline: "2.6 Billion With No Place to Go (to the Toilet)." That is, about a third of the world's population has to walk out the back door and into the field in order to do their business. I can't imagine how difficult that would be if I had to do that in this kind of weather.
I don't have to use my imagination, however, when I'm in Southeast Asia. Western toilets are becoming increasingly common in Thailand and its neighboring countries, but it's not like here where when I have a bladder emergency, I know there's a McDonalds with a clean washroom just around the corner.
One time I was riding in a bus in Cambodia when the driver pulled over to the side of the road. We were out in the country. I wondered if we had a flat tire or something like that. No. What happened was that everyone got off of the bus walked into the field and discreetly relieved themselves. Then they all boarded the bus and we proceeded down the road as if nothing unusual had happened.
My point is that for them nothing unusual had happened, but for this western, English speaking, relatively wealthy (compared to them) and spoiled (compared to them) person, it was a big deal. Things like that are a regular (no pun intended) occurrence over there. My first reaction is often an arrogant "they are so backward" thought. The more I reflect, however, I realize that I am used to a much more comfortable life style than they are, simply because I had the good luck to be born in this country. And all of a sudden, being part of the 99% here doesn't seem like a punishment handed to me by outrageous fortune.
And if having a sit down toilet doesn't stir gratitude up in your soul, go on line and learn about how many billion people don't have enough to eat or many Syrians are living in refugee camps or how many thousand Africans die from malaria every year.
Going to Thailand every year always helps get my head screwed back on straight. Compared to the rest of the world we in the 99% are filthy rich.
Answer Book 2018
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