During the holiday season, I take time out to consciously ponder what I am thankful for. Of course I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my education, my opportunities, and my “stuff.” I’m not wealthy, but I live a relatively privileged life. With all of the privilege that I have, I have little room to complain about anything.  But like most people, I do occasionally slip up and whine about things that many people wish they could lament.

For example, I sometimes catch myself complaining about being tired and hungry at the same time. Then I feel silly after remembering that those are two of the best possible complaints to have. In fact, those complaints are so good that they shouldn’t be complained about at all. When I’m hungry, I can eat; there’s food in my refrigerator waiting to be devoured. When I’m tired, I have the option to sleep at some point in the near future.  How many people are hungry, but have no means to obtain food?  How many people are tired, but cannot sleep until they finish their 16 hour shifts? If someone in such an unfortunate situation sleeps, their families starve.

I’ve noticed that people complain about things that most people in the world wish they could grumble about. Many college students gripe about their homework, but most don’t spend enough time appreciating the fact that they have the opportunity to get an education. I am intensely critical of the government, but sometimes I forget how thankful I am that I have the freedom to voice my opinions.

As the semester concludes and the holiday season gears up, try to make a conscientious effort to balance your complaints with the brighter side of each situation. If you think of everything in relative terms, then you’ll realize just how lucky you are to actually be complaining about whatever is upsetting you. Taking time out to appreciate what you have is a gateway to happiness.  

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