Week 3 – Complain or Compliment?

“You have found that the Individual may act on the Universal, and that the result of this action and interaction is cause and effect. Thought, therefore, is the cause, and the experiences with which you meet in life are the effect. Eliminate, therefore, any possible tendency to complain of conditions as they have been, or as they are, because it rests with you to change them and make them what you would like them to be.”

I LOVE week 3! The first few lines are my second-favorite Haanel quote EVER.

The tendency to complain is a very human thing. We complain about work, about our families, about the lines at the grocery store/department store/car wash/DMV, and everyone around us understand the complaint and is willing to complain in turn. We connect through our complaints, and can share a moment of unity in a world that seems to be sliding more and more into division.  That’s especially true on social media. People share their gripes; other people respond with either sympathy, or a similar plaint.

But.

What are we really bonding over? Think about those social media posts. Once people start chiming in with their own gripes, you now have a conversation of people, all talking about something that ‘makes’ them angry and upset. Each person’s response then reinforces the complaints of the others. They feel validated, but instead of calming down or letting the irritation go, they get even more grouchy as a result. And what do you suppose then happens to the folks who are merely reading the thread, hm? I don’t know about you, but when I read those threads, I get upset too. Maybe what they’re complaining about isn’t the specific thing about the situation – whatever it is – that I find upsetting, but if I’m not paying attention then my emotional state still shifts just reading the vitriol.

How does it help to connect with other people over negativity? (And how many of us excuse ourselves, once we notice the complain-fest – i.e., pity party – and its results, by saying, “Well, everyone does it.”)   And how do you suppose that affects your subconscious mind?  Your internal blueprint?

Complaining is contagious, to ourselves as well as to others. And then we trap ourselves into a circle, feeding on our own anger and that of the people we’re talking to, as we each complain in turn, and eventually we believe that the world is a sewer and it’s never going to get any better.

What kind of effects do you suppose those thoughts will cause?

Jerry’s gotten into a habit recently of complaining every time he opens his mouth to say anything. There might be a sentence or two mixed in where he’s asking a question or actually saying something that isn’t negative, but most of it is a complaint. He’s tired, he’s in pain, the people at work don’t know anything and if they’d just listen to him then they could improve everything, he shouldn’t have to work at all… and so on and so on and so on.

I don’t like it. I work second shift, he works first. So most days the only time we have are the ten minutes of my half-hour lunch I set aside to call and talk to him. I don’t want to spend that entire time listing to a rambling litany of complaint, for several reasons.

But what to do? It falls upon me to change those conditions, not whine about them. And yet, I can’t simply dictate to Jerry that if he can’t say anything nice just don’t say anything at all. (Okay, yes, I could. But that would cause effects that I probably wouldn’t want; a henpecked husband, a resentful husband, a husband who would feel negatively judged and then not talk to me because he’d feel like he couldn’t say anything right. He’s got a mind and will of his own, you know.)

So what in my own behavior will encourage him to respond with fewer complaints and more positivity?

Well, when I’m on the phone with him at break, I don’t gripe. I talk about the things that have gone right, or relate the funny instances with coworkers that happen almost every day.  As soon as he complains about something, I ask a question like, “So what was the best part of your day?” or “What made you smile at work today?” or “So did anyone do anything kind for you today? Did you do something kind for someone else?” And I’ve collected some of my favorite memes from social media to print out and hang around the house – positive things, you know.

Don’t snort. They exist.

I haven’t been doing it for long. But I’ve already noticed a slight change in how he talks. And of course I’m happier, too. Because positivity is also contagious!

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