How is it that some people go through their day in a good mood, and others collect experiences, moment by moment, to add to their bucket of daily complaints?
After hearing a friend of mine complain about all of the things wrong with their life, the stress, not having time, all the things to be done in daily life – I asked: what do you want? What does your ideal life look like? What DO you want to do each day? What would make you happy? And you know what? They didn’t know. Just something off the top of your head … like right now, what would it look like or feel like? Nothing. Not a clue. They could not come up with one single thing.
How could this be? How is it that someone can find fault with almost everything in their life, complain about just about everything – and not have any idea of one thing that could make their life better?
Everyone has to get up every day, and thank god they do! It’s called being alive. Whether you get up and hit traffic or go surfing, getting up each day is a must. Everyone has to wash their face, brush their teeth, have something to eat, get dressed. Dishes need to be done, clothes washed, sheets changed. Phones charged, mail opened, bills paid. This is just normal life that everyone deals with. We add to the task load by having pets, cars, homes, gardens, kids, friends and family, businesses to care for. Maybe we’ve got a storm blowing through town that brings the inconvenience of rain or flooding – that everyone goes through collectively.
So why are some people constantly complaining about the normal things everyone has on their plate. ‘I’ve got this storm to deal with’ they say. And you respond ‘well, we’re ALL dealing with this storm, not just you.’
Everything is a problem, a burden, an issue, a complaint, it seems. And although you might want to be supportive and understanding, it isn’t long before you would just rather not speak to them. Because it doesn’t change. Because it’s a state of mind. It’s like a black hole that cannot be filled because they don’t want to fill it. They are comfortable in their misery. It’s the default mindset they carry and continue to choose to carry.
How do we know this? Because when you ask them what would make them happy, they don’t have an answer. Im not talking about ‘i want to win $1 million’ answer, I’m talking about ‘i’d get up early and go to the beach, knowing I don’t have the pressures on my job or the bills, because I’ve sorted that out. Maybe I have a little business where I make beaded necklaces or I make fresh coconut milk to sell. I know it’s a pipe dream and sounds silly but just daydreaming about that sounds really cool.’
But in the mind of the pessimist there’s no room for that. ‘i don’t have time to daydream’, but somehow there is time to complain and find fault.
I don’t have a solution for dealing with someone like that. I think at some point we run across people like this. We might even be like this ourselves. What I can say is that negative thinking is habitual. A bad habit, and one that continues to become ingrained with each passing day. In a situation like this it takes determination to change. It takes a lot of focus and work to develop a positive mindset, not because it is hard, but because negativity is so ingrained that its like a stubborn set-in stain.
You can’t force someone to develop a positive mindset, or just not be so negative. Thinking is the other person’s domain. They get to choose their misery or their peace, and that’s pretty much what’s at stake here. Happiness is truly an inside job. If you don’t believe it, watch a negative person buy a new car, or go out to a nice restaurant, or go to a park. It will be moments before they start finding fault or something to complain about. An optimist will seek the silver lining, even when they also see the fault. An optimist will choose to see the good even when they are aware of issues and even when they are negotiating for things in their favor.
If you cannot be optimistic because you relate to being a realist, at least then you can seek balance. Zen says that things are neither good or bad. Things just are. That is balance. That’s an ideal state, actually. Not sugar coating everything that happens and not complaining about everything that happens either. Things just are. And that’s ok. Right, even.
Sad as it might seem, we eventually make a decision about negative mindset people. We either join them or leave them to their misery. Negativity is contagious. Be aware. Spending time with a negative person will in short order infiltrate your mindset and make you miserable as well.
We walk away not because we don’t care about them but because we care about our own mental health. Some people who go through a difficult time (and we all do at some point in our lives) and reach out and seek help overcoming their despair. They want to see the bright side, they want to be inspired to see what they cannot see at the moment. They will actually cling to your positivity to help them find their way. You find them weeks or months or maybe years later changed for the better and thankful for your support.
The negative mindset person, not so much. They will be on a vacation in Rome and complain about having to get back to work in 2 weeks, how much they have to do when they get back, what a hassle it is taking the train, and what an inconvenience it is to find a phone charger – all while standing at the fountain of Trevi on a beautiful sunny Italian day.
You might even say its tragic and I would agree, if not for the knowledge that we ultimately have the free will to choose our mindset, through hard work or through grace. Consciously or subconsciously, we create our happiness or our misery. And it is up to us to fight the good fight and create the lives we seek, and in doing so, stop complaining about the choices we make along the way.
Here’s a take away challenge: Stop complaining for 24 hours.
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