It’s real easy to become one of those people who love to complain (the woe is me people). They tend to complain all the time about everything under the sun. As a youth and young adult, I was innocent enough to believe what people were saying. I really thought there were plenty of valid reasons to complain: about the weather (most often), lack of money (runner-up), “white” folk, “black” folk, neighbors, friends, coworkers, the heavy set person taking up two seats on the subway, bad health, etc. I assumed the world just turned out to be like this and there was nothing much I could do about it. Being in that environment it’s really easy to get infected by that way of being.
Fortunately for me something clicked though, especially as I started traveling outside of the U.S., and reflecting on the culture and society I was born into. One of the great benefits of being born and spending time outside of the United States is having a different view of the world. Even though I was born and raised in the central city of Georgetown, Guyana, and we had indoor plumbing; I knew of and were friends with other kids who weren’t as fortunate. I saw poverty of a kind not comparable to that in the U.S. Yet these folks often had nothing but big smiles on their faces, while we had everything and were still complaining! How could this be?
It became crystal clear to me that the complaints had nothing to do with the outer circumstances. It was an attitude, a habit formed over time.
As I matured, and through countless interactions in the world, I learned that inner loneliness, clinging to expectations of how “we” think things should be, instead of appreciating what is, was among the reasons why we complain so much.
I realized further that the people, who seemed to complain very little, were those who connected to something “greater” than themselves.
Here’s what shifted for me. I began to express sincere gratitude for all the love and “hate” I had received and will keep receiving throughout your life. I became grateful for the clean water coming out of the tap, with just a simple gesture of my hand. Take into consideration that there are many people in other parts of the world spending upwards of six hours every day to get a little bit of water, and an unfortunate number die of thirst.
I became grateful for the lights that came on when I would flip the switch in my apartment. Large parts of the world have to do without electrical power! Say “thank you” for the variety of food that is available to you every day, around the globe there are countless numbers who get by on one scarce meal a day, or are simply starving.