You don't have to live to long in this life to see that the mind is a powerful thing. Never mind the science, trillions of neurones and synapses and all the rest. No, think instead of state of mind. The ability to influence outcomes purely from how you perceive them.
I've spent most of my 38 years as a glass half empty kind of guy. I'm not talking a donkey Eeyore level of negativity, but complaints have always tended bubble up from within and then proceed to roll off my tongue.
I was thinking this last night as I shovelled another 15 CM of heavy, wet snow for the seeming umpteenth time this year. How easy it is to look at what's wrong with a situation instead of what's right. Thinking of how time consuming snow removal is comes immediately rather than recognizing how the exercise has benefitted this old body, how beneficial this time is to a mostly sedate lifestyle.
That's just one easy example; sadly, it has a lot of siblings.
A new intention
Clearing snow to begin the New Year was a great opportunity to reflect (another benefit of clearing snow is it's like taking a shower … the mind is free to roam) on this reality. I've noticed it a lot in our children — complaining is a habit that comes naturally for humans. A factory default, if you will. As I've begun teaching them, correcting and guiding, it's helped me to recognize the weakness in myself. And so I intend to make a change this year.
And I definitely want to see this change occur in my children, but I have selfish motivations as well. I know I'll be better off and more joyful with a proper mind set. And the benefits of a consistent positive outlook are multitude. Here's a couple that come to mind.
Misery loves company
Complaining makes it easier for others to be negative as well. I've seen this in previous work places, as well as my home. When one person starts to complain, it can encourage complaining or a negative attitude of the other people around.
I'd like to be the person who's consistently buoying people's spirits instead.
The lizard brain loves a good gripe
Seth Godin coined the term Lizard Brain.
The resistance grows in strength as we get closer to shipping, as we get closer to an insight, as we get closer to the truth of what we really want. That's because the lizard hates change and achievement and risk.
Complaining makes never launching more of a possibility. This is negativity at its finest. I've let a few projects go in recent years, taking longer than I should to get them out into the open. Part of that is due to simply not believing in them enough.
2014 is a year that will change!
Life is blessed
Although this world can be terribly painful and heart wrenching at times, there's so much to be thankful for each and every day. I know that's easy to say from the comfort of my North American life, but I do believe that life itself is a gift. Being created in the first place is a blessing in and of itself.
Every day affords me the opportunity to praise my Creator for His work, including my own existence. Complaining is saying to Him, “Your work is not that great.”
If I want to see change in my children, to see a positive mental outlook in their lives, it starts with me. I hope that 2014 is the year I stop complaining by default.