Guest / Limited Access /

Appearing on Conan O'Brien's show last year, comedian Louis C. K. lamented how frustrated people get when cell phones and cross-country flights are slow or faulty. "Everything is amazing right now and nobody's happy," he said. When people complain that their flight boarded 20 minutes late or that they had to sit on the runway for 40 minutes before takeoff, he asks a few additional questions.

"Oh really, what happened next? Did you fly through the air, incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight?"

The appearance hit a nerve—with over a million YouTube views and counting—because it's true: Whether it's our impatience with technology or, more likely, with family members and friends, our complaints reflect how much we take for granted.

We know that God has given us our bodies and souls, reason and senses, material possessions, and relationships. Yet with all that God richly provides us daily, many of us struggle to be grateful.

This isn't just impious, it is also unhealthy. Studies show that grateful people are happier and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships. They are more forgiving and supportive than those who are ungrateful. They are less depressed, stressed, envious, and anxious. In fact, high levels of gratitude explain more about psychological well-being than 30 of the most commonly studied personality traits, according to two recent studies published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

The Roman philosopher Cicero was on to something when he said, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." It's also the basic Christian attitude. Paul ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Throwing Inkwells
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a contributor to GetReligion.org, an editor at Ricochet.com, and a frequent writer for Christianity Today and a number of other outlets. A committed Lutheran, her column ran from 2009 to 2011.
Previous Throwing Inkwells Columns:
Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueNew Limits on Religious Freedom
Subscriber Access Only New Limits on Religious Freedom
Discussion: Should Christians support laws that ban Muslim women from wearing the face veil in public?
RecommendedPatricia Heaton: My Career Floundered, Then Flourished Because of Faith
Patricia Heaton: My Career Floundered, Then Flourished Because of Faith
Q+A: The star of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ and ‘The Middle’ reveals the prayer that changed her life.
Trending‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
Islamic extremism now has a rival, according to 2017 World Watch List.
Editor's PickLatasha Morrison: The Church Is the ‘Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well’
Latasha Morrison: The Church Is the ‘Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well’
The founder of Be the Bridge reveals her vision for solving America's race problem.
Christianity Today
The Parent of All Virtues
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.