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Monty Python famously sang "life's a piece of shit when you look at it." There's also the adage that, if everyone threw all their problems on the table, most would reach back down and pick up their own. One rabbinical discussion in Judaism even went so far as to conclude that "we would each be better off never having been born."

No doubt many in today's economy feel that way. Perhaps we can learn from Monty Python to look upon these sordid days as being happy since, as we are told, money doesn't buy you happiness. Having said that, optimism, hope, and faith don't pay the bills either. So many seemingly have nothing to do; almost as if they haven't any direction or encouragement to take action. Some might even choose to become nihilists.

After being laid off, many have taken significantly lower paying jobs (if they've even been able to secure a job at all). When they complain, the typical mantra is "well, be thankful for what you have." Bing Crosby even sang it to us in beautiful verse:

"When I'm worried and I can't sleep

I count my blessings instead of sheep

And I fall asleep counting my blessings."

We are often told to compare our situation to those who are less fortunate - those who don't have a job, or don't have their health, or are hungry, or are living on the street, or can't afford to pay their bills, and the like. We're coached to be thankful that we're alive. It's as if knowing that others are suffering helps us feel better about ourselves. In other words, our happiness in life is really just a matter of perspective.

Are happiness and suffering just matters of perspective? Do you find it irritating when told to be thankful for what you have? When times are tough, how do you deal? Do you compare yourself to others? Is it proper to evaluate your life relative to the lives of others, especially those less fortunate, in order to feel better? Who or what do you take for granted? Are you missing the miracle of life?

O Me! O Life! (from Leaves of Grass) by Walt Whitman

O ME! O life! of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the

foolish,

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than

I, and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the

struggle ever renew'd,

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I

see around me,

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me inter-

twined,

The question, O me! so sad, recurring-What good amid these,

O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here-that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

O Me! O Life! by Walt Whitman (from Leaves of Grass)

(N.B.: Whitman's mention of "the powerful play" may be a reference to "All the world's a stage" from William Shakespeare's As You Like It as Whitman loved Shakespeare's plays.)

DISCUSS!

Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on May 27, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=566

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