"Why am I the only one in our house to replace a roll of toilet paper?"
"I'm so sick of my throat hurting from my allergies!"
"I wish my fingernails would grow in thicker."
"Why can't I afford every outfit in the new White House/Black Market flyer?"
Oh, wait, did I not mention yet that I tend to be a complainer? It's probably my single most shameful character trait. It's one of which I am painfully aware, in which I sometimes relish, but mostly about which I am mortally embarassed.
Like most of the rest of the world, it's been a tough year for our family: illness, job loss, frightening investment returns...blah, blah, blah...you know the drill. After a few months of constant complaining about all of these (and other!) worries (and sick of even listening to myself), I decided to look for answers by replacing my typical fiction reading with inspirational and personally beneficial books. A familiar thread, a common theme leapt out at me from each.
"Successful people do not hang on to bad stuff for long...(they) get rid of bad stuff. Period. Sometimes quickly and sometimes through a process, but they get rid of it...They do not let negative things take up space in their lives, draining them of energy and resources. If the tooth is infected, they pull it. Immediately. They have little tolerance for nagging pains that are unresolved. They finish off problems and do not allow them to remain. They get rid of negative energy." (Dr. Henry Cloud, 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life)
"Remember, whatever you focus upon increases...When you focus on the things you need, you'll find those needs increasing. If you concentrate your thoughts on what you don't have, you will soon be concentrating on other things you had forgotten you don't have - and feel worse! If you set your mind on loss, you are more likely to lose...But a grateful perspective brings happiness and abundance into a person's life." (Andy Andrews, The Noticer)
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you." (Yep, you guessed it...The Holy Bible...Paul's letter to the Philippians 4:6-9)
My perspective has started to change. I realize now (even though I've heard it for years) that it takes just as much - if not more - energy to look at the bad rather than the good. So my solution as I'm working to alter this habit has been to follow any complaint I have with a prayer of gratitude.
"Why am I the only one in our house to replace a roll of toilet paper?" (Thank you, God, that we are so busy focusing on the interests in which you have blessed us, that we can't find time to replace the toilet paper.)
"I'm so sick of my throat hurting from my allergies!" (Thank you, God, that I can afford the allergy medicines that make me feel better.)
"I wish my fingernails would grow in thicker." (Thank you, God, that I can feel my fingers and toes, use my hands and feet, walk and run and play the piano!)
"Why can't I afford every outfit in the new White House/Black Market flyer?" (Thank you, God, that I have clothes to keep me and my family warm and comfortable.)
My reasoning in doing this, of course, is that this yucky character trait of 42 years will not just change overnight. But the funniest thing has happened since I started it a few weeks ago...my mind more frequently visits the blessings now than the empty wishes; acknowledges the positive rather than the negative; focuses on the joy rather than the setbacks. Woo hoo!!
So today, on this very rainy, dark and dismal day, rather than moan, "I wish the sun would come out!" I say: "Thank you, God, for sending our world rain that the plants need, darkness that lets me turn on my favorite giraffe print lamp, and coolness of weather so I save on air conditioning my house." How's that for a new perspective?