This time of year we are supposed to be thankful. Right? In your mind, what is gratitude? What does it look like? What does it mean to you? If you really think about it, it's kind of confusing. Is it only something we talk about at the dinner table on Thanksgiving? Something we feel? Are we suppose to be thankful for that moment? Or is it a continual thing? I love this grateful message and the idea, but are we truly grateful?
One way I've learned over the years to be more grateful and show true gratitude is by refraining from complaining. Think about it, complaining is the opposite of being grateful. If you have followed my blog at all in the past few years you know my story - I took a vow to not complain (at least try as hard as I could) at all in 2015 during my third pregnancy. And to not complain during pregnancy?? That's a big feat. But it actually wasn't all that hard because I knew that this pregnancy was something I wanted and why then would I complain about something I chose to do in the first place? Why would we ever complain about something we choose to do? Or decisions we made? Or anything in the past for that matter. All it does is create a state of negativity for yourself and those around you.
When you complain all you're doing is showing those around you that you're not in control of your life, your decisions or the situations you're facing.
This takes me to my next message. If you believe everything is fair in life or - God is fair or the universe is fair and/or LIFE is fair - then you will start to see the events in your life as part of a bigger picture. The bigger picture is the growth of your soul, your spirit, and as one of my favorite authors - Dr Shefali - calls it, Inner Emotional Mastery. Being thankful for "bad" or "negative" experiences in your life is not impossible but it's really hard to do in the moment; it takes practice and choosing to let go and find/be your most authentic, true, best self.
So how do we "perceive" things as fair? That's the big question. But the answer is in the question itself: perception. Your perception creates your experience. Is that confusing? Your experience is a byproduct of your perception. Key message here: you have control over how you react to things. Dr Shefali explains, "once you control your reactions TO events, you begin to master how your destiny plays out."
I think you get it. But for example: you get into a fender bender on your way to work. Sucks right? Yeah, I mean, there's no "this is awesome" in that experience. But what if we perceive it as part of life. As a "Shit happens" moment. It happens to all of us; the best of us. No matter whose fault it is, we all make mistakes. If we never had these moments, we would have a drama free or accident free life. What good would that do for us? It wouldn't. We would never have any empathy; we wouldn't feel how it feels to have shit happen and certain emotions would never be felt or mastered. These little events are not tests but rather spiritual and emotional exercises that will help us master our inner emotions. And yeah, it might have inconvenienced your morning or even your week but is it something we should be deeply stressed about or angry about? How would those two emotions help the situation? They wouldn't, lets face it. In fact, they will greatly worsen the experience. Your reaction to the event immediately determines its influence on you.
Positive self talk and positive talk in general put pep in your step, brighten the lives of those around you, help you attract positive people and experiences. The opposite happens when you're in a negative mood or you're not showing gratitude. In those moments you're more apt to complain. And visa versa. The more you complain the more you will start to see (perceive) negativity in all events. And that's not a path to happiness; it's a path to suffering and drum roll please...bad health!
I don't really know about the above health statistics or the science behind it, but it makes sense from all I have learned and, I truly believe, it shapes your permanent thoughts - your perception - your victim mentality. Meaning life is unfair, life is bad to you, you don't deserve anything that happens to you, you didn't make the decisions you made in your life, you can't empathize with others nor forgive or relate. Most of us have this mentality from time to time and some of us have it all of the time.
What is a victim mentality? Victim mentality is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave as if this were the case in the face of clear evidence of such circumstances.
If we are always a victim, we never take responsibility for our actions. How will we ever truly teach our children to be grateful and happy or how will we teach them to take responsibility for their actions? It's like gossiping or judging other moms - doing those things aren't in line with what we want for our children and what we try and teach them: "talk nicely about your friends." or " you don't need to tell others about our finances" or "treat others the way you want to be treated". We need to walk our talk as parents.
*And news alert* sometimes our kids are right. When we are in the wrong it's important to say sorry and tell our children that we made a mistake. Through these behaviors our children will learn important lessons, not through our lectures. We've all heard the saying "don't cry over spilt milk"! Right? We try and teach our children at a young age not to cry when things don't go their way. Well, are we walking the talk? Do we get mad at people who cut us off on the freeway? Do we complain when we have to wait in a line at the pharmacy? Or huff and puff? Or do we accept that we are all equals and life is fair to us and happens to us and not seeing events or tasks in life as "bad" but rather show patience and indifference to the things we cannot control.
So now you might be wondering, how can I make this change successfully? Dr Shefali explains it well:
Only once you pay attention, can you start consciously choosing what you want and don’t want in your life and how you want to react in order to achieve your vision for yourself and your family.
Paying attention can be a really difficult thing. It is like trying to stay present. Being present takes a lot of skill and a lot of mindfulness practice.
My challenge to you: wear a rubber band or buy a friendship bracelet and wear it on your wrist. This will act as a constant reminder to be mindful or present or to pay attention to your words and your reactions.
When you catch yourself complaining just take a deep breath. Sit down for a moment and remember...
It's a lot easier said than done. But baby steps.
If you're in and you want to try this no complaining way of living - you should put it out there to the Universe. Hold yourself accountable. And let me know, I will help encourage you along the way. #begrateful #nomorecomplaining I would love to see who is on board.