In Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton turned to fairy-tales for an analogy and made the following remark:
If the miller’s third son said to the fairy, “Explain why I must not stand on my head in the fairy palace,” the other might fairly reply, “Well, if it comes to that, explain the fairy palace.” If Cinderella says, “How is it that I must leave the ball at twelve?” her godmother might answer, “How is it that you are going there till twelve?” If I leave a man in my will ten talking elephants and a hundred winged horses, he cannot complain if the conditions partake of the slight eccentricity of the gift. He must not look a winged horse in the mouth.
Chesterton’s point was that you cannot fairly object if a wild, magical gift (like a fairy palace, or life) comes with wild, magical prohibitions – or even mundane prohibitions, like coming home at midnight. But this charge to obey is equally a charge to gratitude. Explain the fairy palace. Explain the magical ball. Explain the gift you have, when you want the universe to explain the gift you don’t have. The grace is as inexplicable as the affliction.
It’s tedious to debate whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. The glass is both, and there is surely a time to regret the emptiness. But there is more often a time to be glad for the fullness. Gratitude and happiness live next door to each other. So be thankful, and be happy.