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tempting fate

January 15th, 2011 at 01:14 pm

As we grow up we often hear cautionary tales from the greeks and the bible about being too happy, or enjoying a possession too much. If you express your happiness it attracts the gods who then take away the object of your happiness. We often turn away compliments on things, or actions buy saying something to lessen the compliment, we even tell them about the flaws so they know it's not as good as they think it is. In many cultures artists deliberately introduce something to mar their creations so they are not perfect, thus turning away jealousy from the gods. We knock on wood when we say something is particularly good.

We are allowed to complain, and often do, about our lot in life, but people who state too often how happy they are, or how much they enjoy thier things are accused of bragging, or showing off. I wonder why our society puts more emphasis on being unhappy than happy. It's more socially acceptable to complain about things in your life than to say how happy you are about your life. The majority of advertising is about telling us how unhappy we are, or should be, with our lives and how if only we would buy xyz, we would be happy. However the accumulation of all the ads constantly telling us what is wrong with our lives adds up to an overall feeling of not being happy, of discontent with our lives or possessions.

Subconsciously we feel if we are too happy, or enjoy something too much we are tempting fate. If I compliment my mom on how healthy she is at 71, she always says something like, as far as we know, or there might be something bad we don't know about going on inside. I asked why and she said it's a way of not tempting fate so she becomes really sick. Like if the gods hear she is healty and she knows it and enjoys it, something will happen to her.

I frequently walk thru my house or sit in my chair reading and think about how happy I am with my life. How much I enjoy what I am doing or feeling. How much I like one of my things, like my comfy chair, or a picture on the wall. How I feel good as I'm walking, no pain, how pretty the day is, etc. I don't feel like I can say these things very often though, since it feels like bragging or unnecessarily bringing notice to the fact that I have something someone else might not. That's not to say my life is perfect, because it's not. I have days when I don't feel so well, or am just generally out of sorts with the world. But they are few and far between since I retired.

However, even though I am consciously happy much of the time, the things I talk about or blog about are often the complaints in life. Maybe the complaints are more interesting, but I think there's a kind of societal pressure not to be too happy, or if you are, not to talk about it much. Possibly because it makes others feel bad about whatever is wrong in their lives, possibly because it brings unwanted attention from the fates to see if they can make you unhappy once you've had a taste of happiness. Regardless of whether it tempts the fates or not, I want to acknowledge my happiness with my life. From the everyday small things, like the taste of an egg sandwich or how much I enjoy my reading chair, to the bigger things like how proud and pleased I am by the people my nieces are turning into or walking with my mom each day.

I finished reading my book The Girl Who Heard Dragons by Anne McCaffrey. Sci/Fi - ok

6 Responses to “tempting fate”

  1. Petunia 100 Says:

    I love your attitude, Retire@50. Once we get over the advertisers' lie that you can't be happy until you have (fill in blank), we are suddenly much happier people.

  2. Looking Forward Says:

    Very interesting post. Very true too. I rarely say to anyone how wonderful I feel my life is, even though I feel that way 99% of the time. Partly, I think, because it would make some unhappy/jealous to hear that and partly because of 'the Fates' as you put it (waiting for the other shoe to drop?). That comes from life expereinces too - I have been so happy only to have things come apart and then feel like my life was terrible. ('Course things always got better. Big Grin )

    I do think it's very important to tell the people you love how happy they make you. You shouldn't keep your happy feelings to yourself all the time. Smile

  3. george sand Says:

    Thank you for the reminder. I find I spend too much time worrying about the next thing that could go wrong.

  4. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    This is such an interesting post! It has caused me much reflection.

  5. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Wow. Very thought provoking post

  6. Analise Says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I privately reflect each day on the blessings in my life. But I guess I am a little like your mom... I don't like to talk to others about how good things are in my life for fear of jinxing them. I think there's plenty of negatives in anyone's life, including mine, if you look for it... but what good comes of it?

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