Gratitude Seems to Make People Angry

Telling people to look on the bright side of life seems to exact the opposite response.


In the last week or so, a story and a blog post have drawn downright angry responses. What were they about? Gratitude. Positive thinking. Jon Gordon's book The No Complaining Rule.

From one comment: "I am sure that the top 1 percent would like to see all complaining stop. How else are they going to get away with stealing a decade's worth of economic opportunity from the middle class?"

Another: "This is child's play. Eat your food because someone in this world is starving. I am looking for something more meaningful. Each time I visit this childlike school of thought I become angry. Complacency comes to mind. We as a culture have let the ball roll in a direction that has been a detriment to ourselves. When will we stop listening to simplistic ideas that do nothing but gloss over and allow it to go on???"

One more: "People certainly can decide to be happy, but not by lying to themselves about reality."

OK, one more: "I guess you could always tell your family the bright side of no job, no food, and no transportation. Jeesh... The privileged talking down to the suffering, nice..."

It's an interesting response, largely because gratitude is rarely correlated with circumstance. Gratitude has nothing to do with denial. It's not about glossing over difficult truths. If you've ever been in a country where people are truly poor, and really taken the time to sit and talk with the residents, visit their homes or walk their neighborhoods, you often find some things that are truly shocking. Joy, for one, is not uncommon. Gratitude as well.