I keep hearing that resentment is the opposite of gratitude.
I’m not sure that’s exactly it, but I do know that it’s hard to be grateful if you’re harboring resentment, and it’s hard to be resentful if you’ve developed a grateful outlook.
Here are a few examples of different perspectives on the same situation:
I never get the swing. I always have to play with the jump rope. Why do other kids always get to the swing first? They won’t get off, and the teacher doesn’t care. I’m going to stand here and glare at them.
Looks like I get the jump rope again. I’m going to come up with new rhymes while I jump. Maybe Tyler and Olivia will come jump with me. I’m glad we get to have recess. Some kids don’t get much recess.
She’s got clear skin, straight teeth and perfect hair, but she’s so mean! Why couldn’t I have teeth and skin like hers? It’s not fair. It’s not right.
My skin might break out daily, I might need braces, and my hair might explode when it gets humid, but I have a good family, some close friends, and I feel very lucky.
Her parents bought her that flashy new car and all I have is this crummy bike. Why does she get luxury items? My parents could afford to give me a car! There she is, polishing it in the driveway, showing off! I work as hard in school as she does!
It’s great that I have a bike to ride to my after school job. If I had to walk, I’d be late all the time. Glad I have a job, too. It will be good experience and someday I might even buy my own car, which is much more satisfying than if my parents gave me one.
I can’t get into the good school with my grades and test scores. It’s not right. My work experience should count. My life experience should count, too. The rich kids get in because their parents rub shoulders with the right people. It’s infuriating. Now I’ll have to go to the state school.
My degree might not open the same doors it would if it were from a big-name college, but I’m glad I’m not swallowed up in a huge lecture hall and learning from teaching assistants who know less than I do. I’m glad I can be closer to home, learn what I want to know and not have to end up far from friends and family.
They hired someone with much less experience than I have. I don’t know why I keep getting overlooked. My credentials are excellent. It must be a conspiracy. They hate people like me. It’s because of my name, my religion, my politics, my values, my family, my relationships.
I haven’t been able to find a job in my field yet, but I’m going to keep trying. I’m grateful I have a place to stay, food to eat and warm clothes. So happy I live where I can aim for the job I really want instead of being forced into one I can’t stand.
I don’t want to go to my high school reunion because my old classmates will brag about their great jobs and beautiful homes in upscale neighborhoods, and I live in an apartment with nothing much going on. I don’t want to tell them where I live and what I do.
Most of my high school friends have broken relationships, family deaths and major illnesses. I’m thankful life is less dramatic for me. I may not have a big home in a resort area, but I’ve enjoyed my life and am surrounded by good friends.
Donna Marmorstein lives and writes in Aberdeen.