Happiness Is About Connection And Gratitude
People complain. They complain all the time about everything. As a child, I was innocent enough to believe what people were saying. I really thought there were plenty of valid reasons to complain: the weather (most often), lack of money (runner-up), the neighbors, husband or wife, the children (me, in this case), civilization (or the lack of it), bad health, etc.
What I was made to believe
I assumed the world just turned out to be like this and there was nothing much we could do. It was called something. The thing to do was to pray. Not to ask for a better life. No! I learned to pray to ask God to forgive me for my sins. I was a nice little girl, doing very well at school, polite with the neighbors, helpful at home, so it was rather difficult to keep finding sins for our weekly confession. However, because human beings are profoundly sinful by birth, they told me, I had to go confess anyway. The nuns at school came up with a solution to help us out: they prepared our sins for us. Every Wednesday, on confession day, they gave us a pink paper with our confessions of the day.
Spoon fed confessions
I remember feeling sorry for the poor priest, hidden in his little black cabin, spending the entire day listening to the confessions of 600 little girls, endlessly repeating the same sins over and over? Growing up, I figured something was missing. Pretending to be sinful by repeating sins someone else had cooked up for me, that could not be what life is about. I refused to further confess sins that I had not committed. I refused to believe that I was the cause of my misery, and that I had to pray every day without things getting better!
When I was 26, I went to Africa. There I met my husband from Belgium and together we had a wonderful time, with plenty of sunshine and plenty of money; circumstances people usually don’t complain about, right? According to my childhood logic, people only complain for a reason: lousy weather (too cold, too much rain), lack of money, etc.
Nevertheless, what I discovered over there seriously opened my eyes! My friends just went on complaining: about the weather (too hot), about the service (5 servants and still they were complaining) or about how things were too expensive. While they were earning 5 times as much as before! I discovered there and then that the complaining was not based on any objective reasons.
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