Imagine getting upset every time the sun goes down.
See your fist in rage at the sun while screaming “there you go doing it again, just like yesterday! How dare you!” and so on. You look crazy, which makes sense. I mean the sun is just doing its thing (actually the earth is the one doing most of the moving but you get what I mean). I am here to tell you that every time you complain you are arguing with reality and that is just as pointless and crazy as yelling at the sun.
“I don’t complain” you might be thinking “It’s too hot” “it’s too bright and it’s not tall enough” oh and “traffic is awful!” Shall I go on? “This costs too much, she’s horrible and this and that sucks” I know you have heard it and I would bet some of you might have heard it out of you own mouth. Did you know that when you express these emotions the chemistry in your brain changes? It makes sense they change your mood and not for the better. And all that is; is arguing with reality.
Things happen objectively. They come with no labels. If traffic did not slow your progress it wouldn’t be traffic! If poor drivers didn’t drive poorly they wouldn’t be fully expressing themselves. Think about it. The point of yoga is to accept life as is and by doing so you can shape the future. However, when the present is happening, its happening and we can choose to embrace it or complain about it. Complaining only hurts us and doesn’t change a thing expect our mood.
Try this! As I work with future yoga teachers I challenge them to go 21 consecutive days without arguing with reality or complaining. It seems easy however it took me four months on my first try but it gets easier with practice. Let me clarify complaining, let’s say you order a meal at a restaurant and it is cold when the server brings it to you. If you simply request the server to bring you a warm meal that is not complaining because you are speaking to a person who can directly adjust the situation. If you turn to the person who you are dinning with and say “I can’t believe they would serve me a cold dinner” That is complaining.
To keep track simply put a rubber band or a hair tie around your wrist and every time you catch yourself complaining move the band to your other wrist. Try it. It is a life changer. Also you will find those around you very helpful so let them know what you are trying to do. I once had a second grade teacher try it and she had heard whole class wearing non complaint bands! Imagine twenty second graders trying not to complain, imagine if it caught on, what a pleasant world it could be.
How to go 21 Days Without Complaining:
It doesn’t take that long after you put that rubber band around your wrist and attempt to go 21 consecutive days without complaining, switching the band to the opposite wrist when you do, to realize this challenge won’t be as easy as you first thought. To be honest, I considered myself to be a pretty positive person but within an hour I caught myself complaining. I believe my first catch was “that song (name withheld) is terrible.” Yes, labeling is complaining. The song wasn’t terrible, in fact all the artists, engineers and producers were extremely talented and the song itself had given joy to millions of people hence producing millions in revenue consequentially supporting thousands of jobs that supported thousands of families and so on. The song wasn’t terrible it just wasn’t the style of music I enjoyed. So my first tip to stop complaining is to stop labeling and take a moment to consider why and what you are saying. This practice alone will improve every relationship you have because you begin to communicate what you truly want to say.
The example above also illustrates my next tip. Get over yourself. It is not all about you, so consider other people and other things. Here in Texas in the spring many people will complain about the rain. “Oh darn, it’s raining again”. The first thing I think of are the countless animals and plants that rejoice at the showers of spring, however in a moment I am also reminded of all the gardeners, botanists and even people like myself who love the rain! Then of course in the summer I hear “I can’t believe it’s so hot”. “Really?” I think to myself. “It has been hot in Texas for tens of thousands of years, what did you expect?”
This last tip is my favorite; Look for the Good. What can you do with what life is currently offering? Isn’t that always the question? Because the fact is, we live in the present no matter what that present moment brings? If there is a temporary delay in your life like illness, sickness or finding yourself on hold look for a good way to use it! In traffic you can catch up with an old friend you have been meaning to call, pop in a CD to learn a new language. On hold you can do a quick brief meditation that can relieve stress and perhaps add years to your life. If someone is short with you it is your opportunity to work on your compassion and understanding.
Bottom line, you want to wrap yourself up with the ever present silver lining of life. Not only will it bring you joy and peace. It makes you one of those people who seem to shine and attract the attention and affection of all around you. Shine on!
So why do we do this to ourselves? Do we even notice it, does someone tell us?
Amy Chapman~AIP Patient