‘Tis the season of holiday stress, complaining, and gloomy attitudes…
As humans, we often get ourselves so caught up in things we cannot control. What we cannot control, we can complain about, and what we have an ability to change, we cannot complain about.
Things you can complain about: Not having resources
Things you cannot complain about: The weather being too cold/too rainy/too hot
There are lots of things we can’t control. Like, if a tornado hits my house, I can’t really control that, because Nature has a mind of her own. I get a little peeved when people complain about “how cold Colorado is”. I will excuse old people, because I know cold fronts bring on achy joints, and people who are on a tight budget, because a cold snap might mean the difference between eating dinner and not getting frostbite, but for the rest of us, we can’t really complain, because we don’t really have anything to complain about. Although the cold is inconvenient (mostly because I have to pre-plan my outfits, and driving sometimes takes longer), I always embrace the cold, because it means change, and change means new adventures and new opportunities for growth. A few weeks ago, we got a surprise snow, which resulted in my car sliding off the road. Instead of letting that ruin my day, I took it as a good reminder that I probably need new tires (and to update my license plates), and had the weather not inconvenienced me, I would have forgotten those things. Cold also reminds me to slow down. When the weather is nice, my room mates and I are always outside: raking leaves, climbing trees, riding the horses, playing BMX in the driveway. And, when it gets cold, we are forced to stay inside, start a fire, and converse with each other. This often results in us telling embarrassing child hood stories, and researching biological questions. But, the change of weather reminds me to change my pace, and through changing my pace, I pay attention to aspects of the world I never noticed before.
Things you can complain about: Having a life threatening illness
Things you cannot complain about: Being sick after staying out all weekend
For the most part, life threatening illnesses are genetic, sprung upon us, probably not too preventable; THAT we can complain about. Last May, my flight home from L.A. was delayed about three hours. I arrived home at 2:30 AM, and decided to get up at 5 AM to go to work. Sure enough, I spent the next month, super sick. But, I could not complain about it, because that was my fault. I had the choice to take a sick day, I wanted to save that sick day for a rainier day, and therefore, I must face the consequences of getting sick.
Things you can complain about: Feeling overwhelmed and inundated with work
Things you cannot complain about: Feeling overwhelmed and inundate with work, and then wasting your work day socializing/complaining about feeling overwhelmed and inundated with work
It is true in every occupation that, in order to save money, companies are cutting salaries and increasing employee workloads. We all experience feeling overwhelmed, and sometimes, that is not necessarily something we can control, because it is coming from higher up. I always think that, if we worked more and complained less, we would probably be way more efficient creatures. It’s kind of like studying for finals. If I spend my entire week, stressing about studying for finals, then I am not spending that energy actually studying for finals, and it becomes a waste of time. The same is true of work; if I spend my work day, complaining about how much stuff I have to do, then I am not getting all that stuff done.
Things you can complain about: Injustices of society
Things you cannot complain about: Self-created drama
Injustices of society might include issues of oppression, inadequate power structures, etc. You can complain about these, because they are usually institutional issues that cannot be changed by just one person, and often these injustices cause a whole lot of frustration, and bottling up anger and frustration never has a positive outcome. You cannot, however, complain about self-created issues. These include issues of power and control, people not liking you, always ending up with the same kind of guy, etc. Instead of complaining about these issues, its probably a more productive use of your time to figure out WHY no one likes you and WHY you feel the need to have power and control over other people, because those are things you certainly CAN do something about.
We are all participants in our own lives. Especially by this age, we all have the power to change our thinking structures, our interactions with others, and our opinions about the world.
(See Happily Never After…)