One of the characters in my upcoming novel, PIZZA & PROMISES, gives this advice to her
nine year old daughter: Don't whine! Shine!
How about the same advice for 39 year olds? 49? 59? Even 69?
Recently I stumbled across an article in the UK newspaper, the Guardian. The title was “We Are in the Golden Age of Complaining.” The writer went to detail all the ways that our contemporary society has embraced complaining as a regular practice.
As we live in an imperfect world, there are times when a valid complaint may be in order. But instead of barking at a waiter, “How dare you bring me a rare steak? I ordered well-done!” we would realize a better result within ourselves as well as with the waiter if we said, “The steak is too rare for me. Would you please have them cook it until the pink disappears? Thank you.” That’s not whining; that is expressing a legitimate complaint in a respectful way.
Most of the complaining that is so prevalent in today’s society is what we call ‘useless complaining’; in other words, it accomplishes nothing but to bring on a sense of sadness and a dissatisfaction with our life. One of the greatest steps we can take to improve our mental, emotional and physical health is to declare a moratorium on useless complaining.
When my character, Jennifer, tells her daughter, ‘Shine; don’t whine.’ her goal is to teach her little girl how to respond effectively to uncomfortable situations.
Here are a few tips for ‘complaint recovery’:
1) Focus on the present and look for the good in it. The past cannot be changed and the future is not yet here. What each of us has every morning is a new day, that comes to us like a blank sheet of paper, waiting for a story. Make yours positive.
2) Learn the art of adapting. When your well-planned schedule gets interrupted
or the weather refuses to cooperate with your plans for a picnic, adapt rather than react in a negative way. Get creative. Find ways to turn the interruption or disappointment to your benefit.
3) Choose to be less judgmental, especially towards yourself! We all make mistakes. Being self-critical leads to complaining. Being critical of others leads to judgmentalism. Let go! Remove ‘should have, would have, and could have’ from your vocabulary. Be generous with sincere compliments towards others – and towards yourself. Be gentle with yourself and others.
4) Accept people for exactly who they are. Everybody has a gift to share with the world, a gift that’s unique to them. Don’t try to compete with another’s gift; develop your own and embrace the differences.