Hardwired for Discontent?

This past weekend, I ran into a guy I’ve known for quite a long time, but hadn’t seen since his retirement about a year ago. For more than two years preceding his retirement, he gave us almost daily updates about exactly how many work days he had left before checking out. He didn’t even show up for a little “farewell” do on his last day. Although he had a prestigious position with lots of authority and an extremely generous salary (deep into 6 figures), he hated his job.

So, now he’d been retired for a year and settled in. How was he? Well, I regretted asking. He went on about having to “cough up” a third of the cost of his daughter’s upcoming wedding; the problems with one of his three motorcycles; the outrageous cost of insuring his bikes; the “ridiculous” quote he’d gotten to repaint his immaculate vintage car, etc., etc. The problems were the sort average people would die for. I listened for about 20 minutes, then found a way to drift off.

Here’s a fellow in the prime of his life, with a supportive and attractive wife, lots of money, a great pension, two healthy and accomplished kids, good health, a beautiful home and lots of time on his hands; seemingly oblivious to it all. Started to make me wonder if habitual discontent is either an addiction or a genetically programmed condition for some people. He’s, by far, not the only one I’ve run across – people who apparently have the world by a good hold with a downhill pull – who just can’t seemingly smell the proverbial roses.

The interesting contrast was the guy I ran into right after him: Living hand to mouth; poor health; no family. His good humor seemed surreal in contrast. He wandered off to get himself another beer. I was left wondering what’s ‘right’ with his wiring.

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