Why I Don’t Believe Being Grateful Works

inspiration porn stella young

What’s that saying? I used to feel bad because I had no shoes and then I met a man who had no feet. Yeah, I’m calling bullshit.

Last week I wrote about not comparing yourself and I noticed a trend in the comments – how lucky they were to have what they had and how so many others have it worse so they should feel grateful to have what they have. You’ve heard this theory before, probably a million times, and it’s the basis of all inspiration porn you’ll find out there. To quote Stella Young “It could be worse: I could be that person”.

The problem with this kind of thinking, apart from the fact that someone out there is “that person” and probably feels pretty shit to be used for your inspiration porn, is it doesn’t actually make you feel any better. Not only is it objectifying someone else’s misery for the sole purpose of making you feel good about your life, it’s not even doing a very good job of it. It’s not bad enough we’re feeling down about our luck, we have to feel guilty for feeling bad too?

As a good friend recently said: Just because that is worse, doesn’t mean this isn’t bad.

She was right.

It seems misguided, to me, this concept that you can’t feel bad about your lot in life because someone else has it worse. There will always be someone who has it worse, just as there will always be someone who has it better. Why can’t we be grateful for what we have without turning it into a competition? I feel like that’s the more logical answer.

It’s not that I don’t think we should be grateful, or that I don’t believe being grateful for gratefulness’ sake works (I really just couldn’t condense my point down into something catchy enough for the top, if I’m honest), it’s more that I don’t believe in looking at someone who has it worse than you and using that as a reason to feel like you should be happy with what you have. Of course you should be happy with what you have, but because you have it – not because someone else has it worse. It’s kind of disgusting when you break it down that you’re using someone else’s misery as a reason you should be happy.

Do you believe you should feel grateful because others have it worse? 

  • http://johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

    You’re absolutely right…

    Happiness is not about comparing yourself to anyone else…

    Happiness is about appreciating what you have and celebrating the things that bring you happiness…

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Spot on

  • 26 Years & Counting

    I don’t believe that being grateful that someone else has it worse than you is a good thing. Primarily because you have to acknowledge things that are hard or going wrong in your life before you can even think about fixing them.

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Good point!!

  • Monique Fischle

    I like to try and be grateful for what I have rather than comparing my situation to that of others (though I am guilty of that too). But that doesn’t mean that things don’t suck sometimes and suck a lot.

    For example when my car gotten written-off in the early hours of Christmas Eve for simply being parked on the street, I was grateful that DG’s car was left untouched so that we still at least had one car but you better believe I was cranky and upset and annoyed that this had happened and happened to me the day before Christmas. In the grand scheme of things I know it wasn’t the end of the world, but I wanted to be allowed time to wallow about the situation.

    I think being grateful is a good thing when it’s not used as a comparison. Even if your situation isn’t as “bad” as someone else’s, it doesn’t mean your situation isn’t also bad.

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Yeah sometimes you need a good wallow before you can move on

  • Alison – Talking Frankly

    It is my humble opinion that being grateful because somebody else has it worse is actually just bragging and a bit smug. Shit, my day is worse but HELLO WORLD I could be….. y’know? That said, I do often say to myself when I’m having a crappy day – suck it up Al, you could be a Russian submariner. They never catch a break those guys. Good piece Tamsin x

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Good point! I’d never thought of it that way but you’re right.

  • http://www.kellyexeter.com.au/ Kelly Exeter

    Agree with you T – I think we should just be grateful for what we have, without the need to stack what we have against what others don’t.

    We were just talking on the weekend about how the reason a lot of the news is so negative is because in seeing other people’s suffering, we feel better about our own lives. And that’s kind of screwed up

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      That is very screwed up.

  • Sophia Russell

    I agree with this. I think true contentment comes when you don’t feel the need to compare up OR down. Just simply acknowledge everyone is different and on a different journey in life (easier said than done!)

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Everything worth doing is easier said than done!

  • http://mrsbcshouseofchaos.blogspot.com.au/ Lisa Barton-Collins

    Totally agree. Everyone is running their own individual race, and really, there is no comparison to anyone else, for good or bad. x

  • http://www.mybrownpaperpackages.com/ Malinda

    I think everyone gets so caught up in comparing they forget to have compassion.

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