Sunday, January 12, 2014

Complaining: a Distraction from Focus

I awoke this morning feeling beset by challenge, complaining in my mind about problems that just would not be solved no matter how hard I tried.  By the time this inward conversation was finished, I was in tears.  At that point I said ‘enough, enough of the self-pity, let’s get up and make something really good out of this day.’

Over breakfast, I happened upon a blog entry by Jonathan Mead, a guest writing for Leo Babauta’s blog, ZenHabits.  In it, Jonathan writes about complaining, how it stands in the way of happiness and what can be done to break the habit.

As I pondered his thoughts and my own experience, I came to understand in my heart what a total waste of time complaining is.  How much time do we throw away on it inwardly or outwardly during the day?  How much richer might the day be if that time was used in other ways?  I felt my heart lift just thinking about what a day without complaint might be like.

Rather than spending precious time in mental or verbal complaint, I could be using the same time and mental power to take the next step with anything challenging in my life.  Or I could use it to do more creative work. Or I could take care that my communications with others be focused on the positive.

The habit of complaining is a kind of darkness that takes hold in us.  We have a choice before us:  to focus on this darkness, to gather to ourselves all that we feel wronged by, or we can focus on the light, making each moment of complaint a reminder to turn our attention to what is positive and working in our lives.  It is hard to do this sometimes, but worth the effort.  As we replace complaint with what is light in our lives, we add to humanity’s ability to bring greater light into this world.  The tiny steps we each take in this direction will always touch those around us.

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