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
As the last days of winter try to hang on, my thoughts wander to times of getting away just on the horizon. I put together these thoughts from one of my earlier journal entries as I look ahead to warmer days.
While sitting on the shore’s edge during a trip to the North Carolina coast a few summers ago, my wife and I entered into a discussion about vacation. We called what we were doing vacation, but at that moment it felt a little more inspirational than that. Webster’s says this about vacation; “a period of rest from work.”
I know when we go on vacation, we are taking a break from work, but how often does it really feel like rest? Don’t many vacations feel rather busy? Recreation is important; time with family is important; but so is rest.
What most of us need, more than anything, is restoration, which comes from a time of rest. God created in us this natural need to rest; a time to restore our bodies and minds for the rigors of day to day life. A Sabbath is for rest, regardless of when you choose to take it. And author/speaker Graham Cooke even suggests that “Sabbath is a weapon.” Because we recharge when we rest, we are strengthened and focused again. We gain clarity and perspective.
When we go from busy to busy, there’s not much time for restoration in that. My friends and I have decided we’d like two weeks of vacation back to back. Then we can experience recreation and restoration. That’s probably tough for most of us in this economy, but the point of it all is this; we need rest. Not just the five to seven hours of sleep each night either. We need a focused time period, as alone as possible, where the Spirit can minister to our hearts; whether it’s sea shores, or the mountain tops, or somewhere in between.
I pray that you can find some time for that this summer. It’s good for your soul, and good for your heart. And it’s good for the others around you too.
I follow lots of other blog writers, news feeds, and book authors. I hope that, among other things, it makes me a better writer. One of the guys I like to read often is Seth Godin. I gained some much needed inspiration from a recent blog post of his titled, “Cracking the Pottery.” I think I even feel a fresh sense of freedom as I re-read these excerpted pieces of text from his post. My hope is that they inspire you as well.
“… I find that it’s almost essential to fall in love with an idea; to invest the time it takes to make it good and worth sharing … For every post that makes it … I write at least three, sometimes more. That means that on a regular basis, I delete some of my favorite (almost good) writing … When you get in the habit of breaking your own pottery, it’s a lot easier to ask, “what if?”
If you’re like me (and apparently Seth), birthing a worthy idea can be an arduous task. Whether you are writing a blog post, a contracted article, a book, or a song – or maybe you’re writing a business plan for a new venture – I find three points paramount. One – the first draft is always rough. That’s why it’s called a rough draft. Two – It’s okay to ball it up and start over. Others do it all the time. And three – Don’t re-write it to death. We are our own worst critics. Let the idea live or die with the reader.
Greg Tutwiler, life coach, publisher
What’s going on in the world today? I mean, look around. Do you feel it? There seems to be this general condition of busyness under pinned by an air of discontentment and disconnectedness. We have been lured into this mindset of go, go, go, and more, more, more. And it leads to a sense that we are never finished – we never get everything done, we can never catch up. And we become resolved to thinking that things are just never really going to get any better. But better, compared to what though? Have we completely lost perspective? This matrix minded lifestyle is constantly offered up as normal here in the western world. And people have become complacent and disengaged. So what’s the problem? We have lost touch with authentic truth. Why? We are being manipulated. We are being sold a bag lies, and we are buying it up like there’s no tomorrow.
For me, personally, one of the more important pieces of scripture in the Bible’s new testament is, “to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” If it was important enough to suggest that we are to be transformed, by the renewing, refreshing, reorienting of our thoughts – i.e., changing what goes into our brains – then it stands to reason that the best way for our adversaries to alter what we believe in is to influence what we consume.
An article published at phys.org in November 2013 reported an alarming statistic. “A new study by a researcher at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, says that by 2015, the sum of media asked for and delivered to consumers on mobile devices and to their homes would take more than 15 hours a day to see or hear. That volume is equal to 6.9 million-million gigabytes of information, or a daily consumption of nine DVDs worth of data per person, per day.”
A Retired military soldier, named Colonel Dan, once a staff member of General Norman Schwarzkopf’s intelligence team, said this about truth; “Most people absorb what they know about life from the major media centers these days. The media paints the picture for all to see. If that picture is constantly distorted, lies become accepted as truth, i.e. tell enough lies repeatedly and soon those lies are accepted as fact. Spin and concoct, distort and influence using the public platforms such as television, radio, and print, (and Social Media) and you can influence, sway and control the mind of the vast majority of its population in any area you choose. This subversive influence includes pitting one group against another in order to foment internal discord as well as ridiculing, discrediting and challenging moral principles and national values in order to destroy any hint of a strong spiritual foundation or allegiance to a unique national culture. This is a much easier task if many in your target audience have become lazy, ill-educated, ill-informed, unthinking, and apathetic.”
Are you connecting with me here? What are we putting into our brains? We have a society that spends billions of dollars on diet programs, weight loss supplements, and meal modifications – yet we belly brain up to the television and radio dial without any regard for the mental cancer causing substances flowing into our minds. We have no filters when it comes to that stuff. Even when we know it’s not true, we still sit for hours munching on mindless media like a bag of Doritos.
“Guard you heart above all else,” the Proverb says, “for it is the wellspring of life.” Years ago, computer programmers coined the phrase, garbage in garbage out. None of us would knowingly choose to literally eat garbage, would we? So why then is it okay to pour it into our brains. It is one of the greatest battle fronts we face today. Because we are so easily lured by the desire to be entertained, and emotionally preoccupied, we don’t even want to turn it off. But we must. At the very least, we must calibrate the filter from which we allow this junk to come through. For us to ever be who we are supposed to be, we are going to have to uncouple ourselves from what the world is trying to make us into.
Here’s an idea. Try turning off the mindless media for a few days. Start with three days, then five, then a whole week. You will be astounded at the amount of available time you recover. To the point, you will likely feel board for lack of something to do. That is how dependent we have become on data. You’ll have more time to get outside, read a fulfilling book, play with your kids, dig in the dirt, exercise, and even get more rest. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
Greg Tutwiler, CCLC / www.FreedomLiving.org
We’ve all heard the statement, “when one door closes, another door opens.” I think one of life’s greatest tragedies is that moment when that door behind us has closed, and we stand at the thresh hold of a new door, afraid to go through. I call that the hallway of decision. Have you ever been there? That new door represents opportunity, possibilities, and advancement; but also the basis for uncertainty, and self doubt, and insecurity. There is this tendency to think we’re safe in that hallway. We can even get comfortable there. We can camp out there for as long as our bank account, or our support system, or the social environment will allow. But it’s a false sense of security. What we think is safe is actually a trap. What was meant to be a bridge becomes an obstacle.
Life is fluid, organic, and unpredictable. When our foundation is altered, we are thrust into the hallway of decision bound for another door. That is how life works. But it’s up to us to progress on through. We are here to be a part of the bigger picture, not live our lives perpetually at the threshold of decision.
Walt Whitman once wrote;
“What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
Closing and opening doors are part of life’s journey; part of the process of existence. When we allow fear or some other self imposed emotion to keep us stalled in those hallways, we, by default, have taken ourselves out of life. Sure, we move about. But rarely do we stray from the supposed comfort of our little hallway. The “powerful play” of life does go on, with or without us. It is inevitable. We cannot stop the progress of time no more than we can suspend the nature of aging.
Nineteenth century philosopher Rosa Luxemburg wrote, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Ponder that for a moment. Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Are there hallways in your life that have been dormant for so long that you don’t even recognize the chains that keep you there?
As I begin to move into my fifth decade of life, ideas like this start to bear more weight. But here’s the hope in all this. You and I hold the keys to the locks that bind those chains. C. S. Lewis wrote, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched, or go bad.” Life is the hatching process. The next door might just the one where you get to fly. You’re great verse may be just a door step away. But you’ll never know unless you take a chance and move through it. To take a risk is to risk failure. But to avoid risk is to guarantee failure. Will you take a chance, and take the risk? To stay put offers but one eventual outcome; regret.
Happy New Year! January is stereotypically the month where we make “resolutions” about the changes we’d like to make for this year. I’ve learned through the years that resolving to do something doesn’t necessarily guarantee the outcome. Just because we long to change, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Resolving is just the first step. What must happen next for any significant, lasting change is a transformation in our thought process about the routine, or habit, or transition we wish to make. In order for an old habit to be truly broken, we must eradicate old thinking and the replace it with new thinking. We must take inspired action, over and over again in order to condition our minds to the new idea or habit we wish to implement. And one of the first steps in that process is to analyze your current circumstances; ask tough questions of yourself, and them make affirmative statements that you will use to teach your mind the new way of thinking.
One of the ways I like to use to teach my mind to think differently is through Epiphanies – Aha moments – ideas that slam the breaks on old thinking and cause you to stop and interrupt the traditional, learned thought patterns. They create crossroads in our brains; A statement or quote, a profound phrase, followed by a few probing questions and then a positive forward thinking statement that can prompt a different action. They are so provoking that you are now forced to try to ignore the idea. Do this enough, and eventually you will begin to shift from can’t to can, from should to could, from dream to action.
I’m working on a new book called, Epiphanies; A Handbook for Unleashing “Aha” Moments. The goal is to help the reader experience that shift. What follows is a sampling of the material that will eventually find it’s way into that book. I hope it helps, even if only in a small way, to shift your thinking from some day to today.
“The most common commodity in this country is unrealized potential.” (Calvin Coolidge)
What is that one thing you know you’re good at, but just can’t seem to act on it?
What is one thing you can do to change that?
Don’t go to your grave with your song still in your heart.
“Greatness, whether athletic or otherwise, doesn’t come from those content on just being but from those who seek being the difference.” (Kirk Mango)
Where in your life have you become content being like everyone else?
What is one thing in your life that you would like to be different?
Being different might not always be popular, but it can sure be fun, if you let it.
“If you have a dream, don’t just sit there. Gather courage to believe that you can succeed and leave no stone unturned to make it a reality.” (Roopleen)
What dream are you still sitting on?
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, some place you’ve always wanted to go?
We only get to do this lifetime once. See a chance, and take it.
“F.E.A.R. has two meanings; forget everything and run, or face everything and rise.” (Zig Ziglar)
Which one will you do?
What’s the one thing you fear most?
Imagine your life if you could overcome that fear. If you can imagine it, you can live it.
Change is just a two dimensional word unless you take three dimensional action.
“Once a person is determined to help them selves, there is nothing that can stop them.” (Nelson Mandela)
What’s one thing you can do right now to change your current circumstances?
If you are not determined, what is stopping you?
Picture your life as it would be on the other side of your circumstances. Feel it. And let that lead you there.
“Think so far outside the box we can’t even see the cardboard.” (David Murrow)
Can you think of an area in your life where things look pretty limited?
Where do you feel like you are boxed in?
Much of society is designed to operate in the box. But, much of the real life exists outside the box. Don’t be limited by boxed up thinking.
“Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” (Helen Keller)
Where in your life do you feel like you are avoiding danger?
Would changing your ideas about security change the way you live your life?
We like to think we’ve arranged life in a way to where things are secure. But the big question is, would you still be okay if everything changed.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – Anonymous
“I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacations with better care than they plan their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change.” (Jim Rohn)
Do you find yourself counting the days to your next vacation the minute you get home?
Does vacation feel more like an escape from your life?
If you vacation to escape, there’s a good chance your might need to re-evaluate what you do with the other 51 weeks.
“Know that you are the perfect age. Each year is special and precious, for you shall only live it once. Be comfortable with growing older.” (Louise Hay)
Do you ever find yourself feeling too old, or too young – wishing your were older, or young again?
Do you ever catch yourself looking back in regret, or ahead in fear?
We forget that life is a journey. This is not the end. We are merely passing through. Where you are is where you are supposed to be. Embrace that today.
Greg Tutwiler, life coach