One of the most common complaints in our modern world is “complaining”. I would bet that more telephone time, more e-mail time, more coffee-break time is spent complaining about-the boss, our job, the government, our partners, the kids, the price of gas-and on and on. Now on the surface that seems like fairly normal stuff.
Most people know the feeling of being dissatisfied, disappointed, bored-or a whole host of unpleasant feelings that seem to be caused by someone or something in our lives. There are a million scenarios where something “out there” appears to be the source of our experience. And we all, from time to time, have been caught up in the urge to share our complaints.
The difficulty arises, not when we have a fleeting thought of disappointment or boredom, but when we take those thoughts seriously and personally. The thought then becomes our experience of reality-how we see the world. It becomes our habit. So we have gone from simply having an unpleasant thought to seeing an unpleasant world. Certainly there are challenging situations, life is full of them, but within each of those situations is the opportunity to choose, to have a change of heart. The truth is that life is an “inside-out” experience. As someone said recently, “a hostile person will see a hostile world and feel hopeless, an optimistic person will see a world full of possibilities and will feel hopeful.” Or put another way, one will see the glass half empty the other as half full.
Recognizing our thoughts early is easier than you may think, even old habitual thoughts, even thoughts that have been in the family for generations. All we need to do is notice the feeling. If we repeatedly feel heavy and sad, angry and upset, bothered and out of sorts then you can be sure there’s a habitual thought behind the feeling.
As Eckhart Tolle says in his wonderful new book Stillness Speaks, “. . . observe those patterns within yourself and recognize the complaining voice inside your head for what it is . . . the inner noise of thinking.”
It takes courage to change, to decide not to be part of the pack when it comes to whining and complaining-to decide to see your world with fresh eye-balls. But the rewards are endless. Once we begin to let go of thoughts of judgement we see a bigger picture. We begin to see that there’s hidden potential in every situation and we notice that we feel better. That would seem reward enough, but there’s more. We begin to feel compassion for the person or situation that previously “seemed” to be the cause of our discontent. And miracle of miracles we begin to access our wisdom and common sense and come up with fresh new ideas.
Another must read is a Sydney Bank book, The Enlightened Gardener (Lone Pine Press).