What’s in your Complaint Box these days?
Do you feel like it is stuffed to overflowing with general unhappiness and unwanted surprises? If you are like me, you sometimes allow the daily annoyances and unexpected change of plans to directly translate into complaints. One day I caught myself stuffing my inner Complaint Box full of anything and everything that I didn’t like about my life. After listening to myself complain about an oceanfront hotel room, I had to stop and ask myself, What’s wrong here?! Any chance of turning some of these complaints around and start thinking of them as infinite blessings?
Time to shake things up!
So I started doing an experiment. Each evening I would open my journal, draw a line down the center of the page to create two columns, and then write down as many things that I could think of from the day under these two headings: Good Things That Happened Today and My Takeaways on Life in the Current Moment.
Life being such a lively event, it wasn’t hard to think of things to list. When I paused to take a true inventory of my spirit, heart, and soul, I realized that my Complaints were the result of me feeling overwhelmed by the day-to-day, being too busy, and not paying attention to the many good things that were blessing my day.
After I finished my Good Things list, I would then write as many things that I could think of under the heading: My Takeaways on Life in the Current Moment. When I paused to think of My Takeaways, all sorts of things started to burble forth – things that prior to this exercise might have been labeled as an obstacle or a problem or a frustration. With a more pessimistic or overwhelmed mindset, I could see how many of the things from this second list could end up in my Complaint Box. These things are generally the things that zigged when I expected them to zag – the surprises that metamorphosed and veered away from what I was assuming or expecting.
Discovering the Magic of Good Things
What I discovered is the making of these lists somehow turns any thought of complaining around in a more positive direction in a nano-moment. It’s like magic! By viewing perceived problems through the lens of what I was learning or I had learned, challenging stuff suddenly started to jump the center line on my journal page into the Good Things column.
When life events jumped the centerline, I could see the correlation so clearly between “losing” and “gaining.” In fact – even better – I could feel the correlation and I experienced an understanding that calmed my soul and quelled any frustrations about “what wasn’t working out.” Feeling this shift assured me that all is right with the world, and I began to marvel at the malleability that a different attitude can bring to any moment.
You get the idea. The seemingly “bad breaks” that occur in life – the things that we quickly pop into our heart-and-soul’s Complaint Box – have all the potential to set us up for something even better. I am learning that it’s always best to set my default to Be Mindful. Be aware. Be open to seeing the “bad stuff” as “potentially good stuff.” That there are Takeaways, if you only look. Life events aren’t always so easy to dissect into lists, but I find that if I really stretch and embrace both the Good Things and the Takeaways, I learn a lot about me and how I can be happier as I navigate life’s surprises.
Who can know what’s next? And how can we define best? Or what exactly is a positive or a negative? Be it a Good Thing or a Takeaway, I am learning that what works best for me is to not see everything as one thing or another. To understand that I don’t have a bird’s-eye view of every little piece that has been set in motion. To be me and to be happy and to have a light heart. To stop complaining and to start paying better attention. To not be so quick to catastrophize the unexpected into something bad and to try be more open to the process.
The Beauty of Taking Inventory
Because of my daily inventory keeping, life events are starting to translate surprises in new ways that are changing my mind and my heart. I know that something good is happening right now. And I am trying to be ready for the next adventure with a positive mindset.
I’m not going to lie. It’s not always easy to see absolutely everything in a positive light, and I don’t always learn something and I don’t always see the immediate benefits of Unexpected Stuff – at least not yet. But hearing myself complain about a fantastic hotel room made me realize that my heart had become overwhelmed by a depleting inventory that had reached the point of weighing me down. And it became evident it was time to start emptying my heart’s Complaint Box and filling it with Perceived Blessings instead.
How about you? Want to join me?
Do you want to join me in my Good Things/Takeaway inventory taking? All you need to do is grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the center of the page. Start listing the good stuff that happens in your day in one column and describe what you learned from keeping an open mind and heart in the other column. I suspect that you will discover a balance between the two columns that will delight and expand – a balance that I hope will inspire you to remove any complaints from the list in your heart and celebrate the possibilities that the unexpected has to offer.
And, please, share with us some of your Good Things and your Takeaways! We all grow when we share. I would love to hear what you discover!
Kennedy Farr is a daily writer and blogger, a lifelong learner, and a true believer that something wonderful is happening right now in this very moment. Her passion for writing first caught light at the age of four when she learned how to write her dog’s name on a sheet of lined tablet paper. Kennedy lives high on the mountainside of a tranquil island in the Pacific Northwest. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Fredrick Kearney Jr.January 2, 2017