Service of Perspective: No Right to Complain, Things Could Be Worse

December 20th, 2018

Categories: Bad Day, Perspective


It was only lunchtime and I’d already had one of those days in which bad news was followed by disappointment and I figured nothing else could go wrong but it did not only for me, but for several friends. I was paying for lunch at my favorite deli next to my office and the young cashier asked me “How’s everything?” and I replied with a sad sack expression, “Could be better.”


She smiled and said, “You are alive and you are in good health. That’s all that’s important.” I thanked and agreed with her. Her job was to stand in a drafty spot for hours, she spoke with a strong accent so she was most likely living in an unfamiliar city and I was complaining? I felt ashamed.

Some believe that everything happens for a reason and I have a vivid example to illustrate it. When a large antique desk didn’t sell at auction, we had it delivered back to our apartment. [Wood is “out” don’t you know.] We’d tried to sell it for lack of space but nevertheless found a place for it and kept it empty. When we subsequently moved boxes of belongings to the apartment we had just the place to store the contents–in this desk!

The same day the conversation at the deli happened a friend sent me this photo of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. [Photo below]. Looking at all those names and recognizing that I was to enjoy another Christmas with my dear husband and family my predicaments and frustrations shrank into perspective.

It is in this spirit that I will end the week.

Does it help you to pull yourself out of a glum mindset by acknowledging others have it much worse than you ever will?






14 Responses to “Service of Perspective: No Right to Complain, Things Could Be Worse”

  1. Kathleen Said:

    Yes, yes, yes! I’m a great believer in “everything happens for a reason” and remembering that does help. We got our apartment because my sister had an eye infection and had to come home from our cottage on the Thursday before Labor Day Weekend so she could see an eye specialist. That Friday we saw the listing for the apartment, attended an Open House on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend and put in our offer. What was a disappointment — missing Labor Day Weekend at the Lake — turned into our buying the apartment we love. Proof positive that “everything happens for a reason.”

  2. EAM Said:

    About 10 years ago, I was taking a seminar in NYC. I had the end of year doldrums, and I was complaining to one of the coaches in the seminar. She told me that one of the participants was dealing with cancer. I later learned that I knew that person well and she was battling breast cancer. She was in a treatment program but unfortunately, her cancer came back with a vengeance and took her life. I try to think about this when I’m dealing with daily issues. You have your health, you are better off than most.

  3. Martha Takayama Said:

    I sheepishly have to admit that even in deepest doldrums I realize from watching any news program, glancing at the paper or just noticing people around me that I have to be thankful for so much. Doctors may say something to the effect that you cannot measure your pain against others, but that seems too simplistic. The realization that things could be worse may not alleviate all one’s concerns, but it is important to bear in mind that everything is relative!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What a story!

    I am lucky in that my selective memory usually follows my mother’s advice of burying the bone and remembering where I buried it. As a result, I don’t walk around with a load of bad memories though under the right circumstances one or two might pop up now and again. So I can’t say that for every bad thing something good happened because I haven’t studied the subject.

    The most vivid example for me, however, is what happened after the devastation of a divorce. My life was over and it was, as I knew it. Then I met Homer and a wonderful and magical life began! Amen.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    That’s true, and as my sister often says, we’re ahead of the game with food on the table and a roof. Even if you don’t have perfect health, or if you suffer terrible health, but you have wonderful care and smart doctors……you are still lucky.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The technique doesn’t always work. Time can help. Doing a good thing for another person can too. Work that gets your mind off of the problem–unless work IS the problem–often does the trick and in the latter case, if a work issue grinds at you, do laundry or iron a shirt or sweep a floor or go to a movie or visit a museum or go for a walk or call a friend.

  7. Protius Said:

    To answer your question: Frankly, no, thinking about someone who is worse off than I am, does not make me feel better.

    I believe that most of what happens to us is the consequence of our own doing and not preordained. However, I have a healthy respect for the powers of nature, fate, luck, faith, or whatever you wish to call it. I’ve seen too many cases of serendipitous coincidence, such as your experience with your desk, to pretend to think I an explain how and why they happen.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You may not have seen my comment with the even more important yang to the ying of divorce–meeting and marrying my second husband, an amazing and fortunate unexpected turn of events if ever I experienced one.

    We once bought a house with a cat and we were dog people but soon became cat people too.

    If I felt ill all the time I’d welcome the brief respites that I felt a little OK, if any. Otherwise, I’d be a lousy person to be around and little would cheer me up.

  9. Hank Goldman Said:

    Things couldn’t be much worse, for the entire world. As long as this self centered moron occupies the oval office!

    What could be worse than losing dignity and human rights? UGG!

    Sorry, probably not the kind of response you were looking for.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I think that there are some instances that are too serious like the one you describe or fatal illness or accident where standard techniques to cheer up don’t work.

    As for this administration I fear you are too kind. “Things couldn’t be much worse,” I’ve said countless times and sure ’nuff, they become worse and worse and worse.

  11. Lucrezia Said:

    All one needs to do is remember the millions without food, heat, and drinking water, and no jobs available to remedy the situation. Even worse, many live right here in the so called “land of milk and honey.” A swift remedy to personal woes might be to start doing something about it. This could start by sending a Holiday (food) Basket to: Southwest Indian Foundation, PO Box 86, Gallup, New Mexico 87302-0001. One basket: about $60.00, 1/2: about $30.00. (I added a bit not remembering the exact change — any surplus will be welcome and used wisely)

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Doing something for others often does the trick. We are all so lucky to have healthy food to eat, heat and safe water.

    Thank you for the suggestion with address. You are one of the most charity-minded people I know or have known. You don’t talk about it, you work and contribute. Kudos.

  13. Martha Takayama Said:

    Lucrezia made a wonderful suggestion. Thank you.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:


    She just told me she’s been supporting them for years. She’s also extremely generous to her sister.

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