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 the new thought philosophy, there is a lot of emphasis put on the importance of positive thinking instead of negative thinking. And we all know it feels better to be in a positive frame of mind as opposed to a negative one.
But we do live in a world filled with conditions that catch our attention (like potholes on the street), and :::gasp::: some of these conditions may cause a negative thought to cross your mind (dang potholes – I gotta be careful). Some negative thoughts may even come to you from other people (did you see all those potholes? They are terrible!).
But that negative thought does not matter – it, alone, will not spin your life out of control, and you won’t “attract” a bunch of bad stuff cuz of that one negative thought.
Because it’s not about the negative thought…. it’s about your “thoughts” about that negative thought.
Your thoughts about that negative thought are what cause all the mischief in your mind that can lead to a crisis in negative thinking.
We can have a negative thought, and choose not to entertain it (mischief managed), just like you may see a pothole and choose to just drive around it, and not worry about it the rest of the day.
It’s when we start getting indignant and dwelling on those negative thoughts that the quality of our life can become affected; worrying about the potholes you know about, and having anxiety about the ones you may not know about; fearing you may get swallowed up in one, and being indignant that they exist in the first place.
If you have a negative thought, you can just observe it without getting indignant or dwelling on it. Noticing that negative thought and then choosing not to entertain it can actually strengthen our mental positivity muscles.
The stronger our positivity muscles are, the greater our resilience, and the more open we become to inspired guidance and action.
Big, Big, Love,