If you were to ask anyone if they believed complaining could fix things, they’d probably tell you yes. After all, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil, right?
And I used to believe this too, until Joan Bacon (Unity Minister 1987-2006), brought up the idea of giving thanks in everything.
When Paul said in his letters to the Thessalonians, “be joyful always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God,” he wasn't just spewing positive thinking rhetoric. He was giving instructions to experience greater faith and find the peace of God within us.
So where exactly does complaining fit in?
In 2007 I decided to participate in my first complaint free living challenge. I thought it would be easy! But it turns out that complaining is sort of like having bad breath; you only ever notice it when someone else has it.
I discovered through this challenge that complaining, in general, doesn't fix things. It doesn't deepen our relationships, or help others see our point of view. It doesn't improve our health or wellbeing. It does not increase our faith or our experience of the peace of God within us.
The reason that complaining doesn't make our lives better is that complaining puts all our focus on problems, so we'll walk by sight instead of faith. Like Job, when we take our eyes off God, we suffer because we lose sight of the wonder that is God.
My own complaint-free journey had a profound effect on my spiritual life. Now I notice right away if I am going into "complaint mode," so I can shift my thinking to praise and appreciation. And I've learned that all it takes to fix problems is to simply be clear on the facts.
If I'm at a restaurant, and my coffee is cold, I don't have to complain to my friends or family about how cold my coffee is. I don't have to tweet about how my server must be trying to ruin my day with that cold coffee. I just tell my server, "my coffee is cold, could I have a warm-up?" My problem is solved. And I didn't have to make anyone feel bad in order to fix my problem.
Giving up complaining can be difficult, because through complaining we often gain sympathy and attention. But complaining is just a habit, and as Job once demonstrated, habits can be changed.
If you are ready to shift your thinking from complaining to radical appreciation, I hope you'll join us at Unity of Yucaipa for our first ever Complaint Free Bootcamp. Click here for more information.
In my perfect world, I'd start my day feeling divinely inspired, motivated, filled with zeal, and excited to move forward. There is so much to accomplish; writing, creating, visiting friends, even house cleaning. And it would all be so easy because zeal and enthusiasm charged up my spirit.
But my day does not always start out that way. Luckily, I'd figured out that it doesn't need to.
Let me explain; years ago I wrote for a huge blogging website, and was required to write one article a week. I remember that there were some weeks I didn't know what to write about, so I'd wait for inspiration. And I'd wait. And I'd wait.
Then another writer told me that no matter what, she'd get up everyday and write 500 words. No matter how she felt, no matter how she'd slept, she would sit and write 500 hundred words. She said the moment she sat down and started writing, the inspiration would come. Some days it took a little more time than others, but the inspiration would always come.
I realized that it's not my day that needs to start off a certain way.... I'm in charge of getting my day off to a good start. My day simply takes me wherever I lead. And I lead by taking action; any kind of action.
I do have days where I don't feel like doing anything.
And I'm betting that there are days when you don't feel like doing anything either.
And that's totally okay. Because the minute we start doing whatever it is that needs to get done, taking that action is what opens the way for the enthusiasm, and the motivation to keep moving forward.
It's divine when inspiration, motivation, and zeal take us by surprise and give us the momentum for a fabulous day. But it's good know that there are things we can do that will invite inspiration, motivation and zeal, so we can choose a fabulous day.