This post is part of the Learn A Thing Everyday (LATE) Project. More information about the project is here.
I bumped into this question in quora earlier this morning, and the question was:
Is it a valid argument that you should be happy with your life because there are people who are much worse off than you?
I found an interesting answer, as follow:
One of these evenings, still unwilling to go home, she asked if she could stay the night at my house. Of course I agreed, and my parents were understanding. We decided to make a night of it, in the limited way that teenagers still living with their parents can, and to get her mind off of it we went downtown, which was within walking distance of my home.
We were out enjoying the cool autumn evening, strolling down Main Street, when suddenly she began to panic. She thought she saw her father just down the block, and her fear was so vivid that she immediately leapt behind a building, pulling me with her. She was shaking, and I remember that her long fingernails were digging into my hands so deeply, I thought she would break the skin.
She begged me to stay, to hide with her, until she was sure he was gone. She apologized about keeping me there, and asked for just a little more time, until she felt safe enough to go. It got dark, and then darker, and finally when she was ready, we left our hiding spot and made a slow, awkward trek back to my house.
When we got back home, my father was furious. He hadn’t set any specific curfew, but it was understood that I should be home before it got too dark, and he had been worried sick about where I was (this was in the days before cell phones). He screamed at me in a way that I hadn’t been yelled at in years, didn’t give me a chance to explain, informed me that I would never let it happen again, and left the room.
As we began to prepare the fold-out couch, tears filled me until I couldn’t hold them in any longer, and they poured out of me in a stream of sobs. I was trying desperately to hold it back, to keep from crying like a blubbering idiot in front of my friend, but I couldn’t control myself. It came whether I wanted it to or not, like a flood.
My friend ended up comforting me through it. She, who no more than a day ago had been physically beaten by her drunk father for trying to do something nice for him, and who just an hour ago was cowering in fear because she thought she saw a glimpse of him on the street. She was comforting me, who had just been chewed out verbally for the first time in years. My father’s only crime was that he cared about my safety. Her father’s crimes were much worse.
I don’t think that I have ever again been as embarrassed as I was in that moment. I had it easy compared to her, I knew it, and I could see it plainly…the events of that evening had ingrained it in my brain. If ever there was a stark contrast showing the types of discipline fathers can lay on their daughters, that would be it. But of the two of us, I was the one crying, and she was the one offering a shoulder.
The thing is, the emotion I felt didn’t come from my brain, it came from somewhere much more primal. While my brain was thinking analytically, weighing evidence against evidence, bad against worse, and worrying about the reactions of the particular audience in the room and how she might judge me for this; my heart cared only for the fact that the father I love had just spoken to me in anger. My heart cared that I had hurt him, and broken his trust, and that he had hurt me in return. It couldn’t care less what happened to anyone else that week, or who else in the world might have more cause than me to cry. It was worried only about the love it felt the need to give and receive, and whether or not that stream of love was fluid and unbroken.
So when you ask whether it’s a valid argument that one should be happy with their life because there are people much worse off, then yes, absolutely it’s a valid argument. A perfectly reasonable, sound, and logical argument. But it doesn’t matter in the slightest.
Our happiness, sorrow, fear, anger, jealousy, and other primal emotions don’t listen to valid arguments. You can throw validity at it all day, but if you’re broken-hearted because you lost someone you love, the fact that someone else on the other side of the world just lost ten people they love doesn’t make that grief go away. Sometimes, it can make you feel even worse.
A valid argument cannot prevent pain, but it can help. Logic can help guide the heart, or help heal it. It can offer peace of mind, or give you reasons for which to be happy, reasons to keep in mind and strive for. It can help give your grief, anger, frustration or jealousy a shorter lifespan. And if you truly accept it, it can change the way you see the world and your place in it.
But never let logic or valid arguments prevent you from reacting to something negative in an emotional way. You have a right, as a human being, to react to the things that hurt you. You even have a right to become sad or angry about them, though that may not be the type of person you wish you could be. In my opinion, it’s what you do afterward that determines how thankful a person you are. Do you continue to dwell on it? Or do you take what you can from it, find some peace, and move on?”
I think it is so true, that logic cannot overcome what you feel. my favorite line is
“You have a right, as a human being, to react to the things that hurt you. You even have a right to become sad or angry about them, though that may not be the type of person you wish you could be. In my opinion, it’s what you do afterward that determines how thankful a person you are. Do you continue to dwell on it? Or do you take what you can from it, find some peace, and move on?”
Because when I have dispute with my boss, I am okay to be told what to do what I don’t like, to accept my boss’ arguments how ridiculous it is, but I will not listen to anyone telling me what to feel. If am angry with the decision, i will accept and follow my boss decision, but don’t expect me showing a happy face. That is my right how to feel.
Apart from that, this answer also shows that we should never comfort a sad person with line “Jangan sedih lah, lihat tuh masih banyak orang yang lebih susah daripada lu”. Comforting a sad person by saying he cannot be sad because his reason is INVALID is a BAD MOVE. It will only make the person feel worse. Every person has the right to be sad.
What i learn from this answer? next time I try comforting people, best strategy is to avoid using any logic, let him/her take his/her moments, admitting that he/she has right and valid reason to be sad, and remind him to get back up, and moves on with life. Shit does happen once in a while.