This ‘season of discontent’ seems to be perennial in some people’s lives. They are the kill-joys who squash our enthusiasm with their expectations of gloom and doom. Their blame finger is forever pointing out at someone else. Their negativity is communicable. Before it rubs off on us, we must immunise ourselves. Shernaz talks about whiners and how to tackle them, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
A few weeks back, when the mercury hit the ceiling and the heat was not just uncomfortable but unbearable most of us were waiting and praying for the rains. Our prayers have been heard and the clouds have opened up to pour down on the earth. What I hear together with the rumble of the clouds now is the grumble, grumble: rain, rain, go away. Such whiny attitude brings home the truth of this little verse:
Winter makes us long for spring,
Darkness for the dawn;
We always seem to miss them most
Our playmates when they are gone!
This ‘season of discontent’ seems to be perennial in some people’s lives. They are the kill-joys who squash our enthusiasm with their expectations of gloom and doom. They go by names like fault finders, complainers, cynics, grumblers, whiners, moaners, groaners, foreseers of negative and pessimistic outcomes. Their blame finger is forever pointing out at someone else. Their negativity is communicable. Before it rubs off on us and we begin to see only the dark side of things, we must immunise ourselves. Habitual whiners are as unbearably dreary as dark days and nobody likes to have them around for too long because they can be detrimental to our zeal. As friends they can get replaced and as family members totally ignored when they begin their litany of gripes that can drain one out completely.
Weather though is not the only thing grumblers keep moaning about. People gripe about everything under the sky, even when they know it doesn’t level out anything for them. Some have pet peeves. There is this lady I know who always complains about her residential society’s garden. She won’t plant a seed or a sapling, not even supervise the gardener but she never misses a chance to criticise and groan when she sees other well-maintained gardens. In the process, she loses the delight of the moment, of enjoying the profusion of colour and beauty around her. We can choose to be whiners and shift blame on to others or we can choose to do something about the situation or circumstances and be winners. As somebody said, “You can have results in your life, or you can have reasons why you don’t have them. Which do you prefer: results or reasons?”
Life is a rollercoaster ride. It is natural to complain when the chips are low sometimes, but to cultivate a sour disposition and to feel victimised at every hurdle along the way is being constantly ungrateful and unmindful of that which is praiseworthy and phenomenal in life. It presents challenges to each of us on a daily basis. Whether we sit around moping and cursing or we work around them and move towards finding solutions and results make all the difference between whining and winning. Even if the solution is still distant we get moving.
This has become such a widespread malady that often people don’t even realise they are constantly raising objections about something or the other. We urgently require a ‘Stop Whining Day’! Just that one day when everyone would rejoice that “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.” It would be a day of peace and bliss though I imagine we would still encounter some pessimist who likes to say on a clear day “Oh, but I bet it is snowing somewhere else.” (Now, I am being cynical here).
As kids, most of us were admonished ‘stop whining’ and as grown-ups, we have passed on the phrase to our kids without realising that they could very well have picked up the habit from us. If we have fallen into this pattern of complaining we first need to stop ourselves.
Here are some things we can practice and get out of this rut.
Change Thought Patterns
Teach yourself to look beyond someone’s broken gate and notice the beauty of the garden within. This teaches us to go past the obviously irritating and disturbing to what is pleasurable and peaceful. Once we begin to look for the good in every situation we become less crabby. Pay attention to your thoughts and stop yourself before you make negative comments about people and situations. Instead, force yourself to find something positive and speak appreciatively about that.
If something bothers you, see what you can contribute to change it. One cannot repeat Gandhiji’s words too often “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” If it cannot be changed accept it. An old adage goes: What cannot be cured must be endured.
Here’s another one of my favourite quotes:
“For every evil under the sun
There is a remedy or there is none.
If there be one,
Try and find it;
If there be none,
Never mind it.”
Make Gratitude your Attitude
During one Moral Science lesson in school, we were asked to make two lists. In one, we had to jot all that was good in our lives and what we were grateful for. In the other, we had to put down all that we were unhappy about. Each day we had to add something to these columns. We soon realised that as we began to appreciate the wealth we had to be grateful for, the list of complaints began to diminish. Make your own lists and discover the abundance you have to be grateful for. Against the items in the complaints list changes what you can or forget it and don’t make it the subject of your next tirade against whoever is unlucky to be around at that time.
Mindfulness teaches us to be aware of our thoughts every moment. If we focus on our breathing our mind will learn to relax. Instead of jumping around in a million directions, like the proverbial monkey, it will come to rest in uplifting thoughts and weed out the harmful ones. So, mindful meditation should be the centre of our daily agenda.
Take Care of Yourself
Today’s stress-filled life can easily bog down our positive spirit and fill us with negativity. At such times it is good to air out those thoughts to a friend or to even get professional help. It is useful to take time out and pamper oneself when pressurised and stretched thin beyond a point. Listen to some soothing music, go for a rejuvenating massage, watch a movie or go for long walks in nature. Revitalisation can change one’s mindset and facilitate one to focus in a new direction.
Choose to be a Winner
Instead of focussing on the person or thing that is infuriating you, choose to look at how you can get the best out of the situation. Try putting yourself in that person’s shoes and you may understand where the shoe pinches. Then you will feel more kindly towards that maid or waiter or a neighbour. It will raise your level of compassion and guide you towards being less judgemental and more understanding. And with this awareness, you’ll come out the winner. Only you can make that choice – whiner or winner.
As I am typing this out, I have received a beautiful forward and I am going to share it here with all of you.
A Great Analogy
You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and shoves you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.
Why did you Spill your Coffee?
“Well, because someone bumped into me of course!” Wrong answer! You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in the cup. If tea had been in it you would have spilled tea.
Whatever is inside the cup will come out.
Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which will happen), whatever is inside of you will come out. It is easy to fake it until you get rattled.
So we have to ask ourselves…what’s in my cup?
When life gets tough what spills over? Joy, gratefulness, peace, and humility?
Or anger, bitterness, harsh words, and actions? You choose!
Today, let’s work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation to yourself and others, kindness, gentleness, and love.
Ponder on this and make your choice, dear reader.
Photos from the internet.
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