We seem to enjoy having things to complain about. Yet, for most of us, there is far more good in our lives than bad. So why the draw to the negative side? It seems our propensity to complain harkens back thousands and thousands of years to when our ancestors had yet to develop the power of speech. According to writer/minister Will Bowen, “they would cry out or whine (complain) when they perceived a threat. Their expression of alarm rallied the tribe to provide support and protection.” He continues, “complaining is a throwback to an unsafe world. But our chronic complaining perpetuates the lack of safety many people feel now … the average person complains 15 to 30 times per day and yet few lives warrant this much negative commentary.”
Author Gary Fenchuk writes, “The human mind often seems addicted to awfulizing and having troubles, and as soon as any particular problem does get resolved we become obsessed with replacing it with another problem – real or imaginary … there are problems, and there are real problems. The vast majority of us don’t have real problems. Our failure to distinguish between these two and appreciate the difference constitutes a colossal distortion of thinking – which has served effectively to destroy more lives than all the wars and diseases combined.”
To offer some perspective, consider what Eddie Rickenbacker wrote after being adrift on the Pacific ocean for 21 days. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned … was that if you have all the fresh water you want to drink and all the food you want to eat, you ought never complain about anything.”
To counter this nature to complain, best selling author Jon Gordon suggests five things to do instead:
1. Practice Gratitude. Research shows that when we count three blessings a day, we get a measurable boost in happiness that uplifts and energizes us.
2. Praise Others. Instead of complaining about what others are doing wrong, start focusing on what they are doing right.
3. Focus on Success. Start a success journal. Each night before you go to bed, write down the one great thing about your day.
4. Let Go. Focus on the things that you have the power to change, and let go of the things that are beyond your control.
5. Pray. Scientific research shows that daily prayer reduces stress; boosts positive energy; and promotes health, vitality, and longevity.
Each time you feel like complaining about something in your life, look around. Chances are you can always find someone who has it worse than you. Instead of complaining, run through the list above. There’s a good chance by the end, you’ll forget what it was that you were going to complain about anyway. And as Gary Fencheck concludes, “the mere absence of any major problems at present, should be a cause, in and of itself, for euphoria.”
Greg Tutwiler, www.FreedomLiving.org