Gratitude A Complaint Free Zone

November 25th, 2012

I’m an early riser, usually up by 5am. First I turn up the heat. There’s a part of me that grumbles about how long it takes to warm up, and another part that says, “Give it a minute. It’s not magic. But the technology IS amazing and it’s working as fast as it can.” Then I turn on my computer. It always takes a few moments for the wireless internet to connect. Part of me gets impatient, but part of me remembers the quote from Louis CK, “Can you give it a second to get back FROM SPACE.”

Louis’ famous comedy routine, “Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy” is so on target. Louis was flying next to someone who complained about losing his internet connection mid-flight. “How quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only 20 seconds ago.”

We complain because we were delayed for 20 minutes. “Then what happened”, Louis said, “Did you fly through the air incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of flight?” We complain because it takes 5 hours to travel from New York to LA. In the old days it took 30 years and a bunch of your family would die on the way.

If we really understood the miracle of flight, and the wonder of modern technology, we would spend the whole flight holding our heads and screaming, “Oh my God! Oh my God! We’re sitting in a chair, flying in the sky.” Instead we complain that the seat won’t recline far enough.

We expect so much, and are so hard to satisfy. The speed of light is too slow for us these days.

I’m setting the intention to stamp out complaining in my life. A recent morning was the nail in the coffin of complaining. I woke as usual at 5 and grizzled about the cold. The first thing I read about once my internet kicked in was the story of a Syrian family of 4 who had fled to Lebanon in the summer dressed in t-shirts and shorts and carrying what they could. Now that cold weather is hitting that part of the world, the father of the family Mohamed Khair Al-Oraiby said this,

It will be winter outside and winter inside. We already wake up early because it is so cold.

How can I complain about my climate controlled life, with all my incredible luxuries and choices, while this family freezes in a situation beyond their control?

I’m guarding my life, and especially my precious early mornings, as a complaint free zone. I have SO much to be thankful for, and not just climate control and super fast internet. I have an amazing family in various states of awake and asleep at 5am. There’s something about a quiet house that makes me love them even more. Not to mention the house itself, the belongings, the incredible work opportunities, the Lake, the woods…….

If I truly appreciated HOW MUCH I have in my life, the miracle and gift of life, I should be going through the day holding my head and screaming, “Oh my God! Oh my God! I’m living a dream of good fortune.”

Some days I get in a funk about my life; wonder what the future holds. It sometimes feels like a struggle. But, compared to many people, and with a little perspective, I can only see my life as a gift.

Just in case the news of the Syrian family was not enough to shock me out of complaining, I look up some mornings to see a giant moon hovering over me out one window and the sun rising out another. It reminds me of the quote from the great mystic Rumi,

After all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth, “You owe me.”

Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky.

Yes, my life from here forward, will be a complaint free zone. When I lapse, as I will, I will look to the sun for a reminder of what it is to live without expectation that the world owes me something and without a sense of entitlement. Life is more than good. It is a drop dead miracle and a gift. The only appropriate response is gratitude and multiple daily choices to pay this gift forward.

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  1. Karin says:

    Awesome Ian! So truthful! I’m gonna quit complaining too and cherish every moment of life and living I can do just because God gave me life on earth and all it’s wonders & beauties! Thank you for your insight and I hope you have a great week!!! <3

  2. ian says:

    thx for joining the complaint free zone Karin- 🙂

  3. Rossi says:

    Love this. For about 2 months I have been getting up a bit earlier so I can grab a cup of coffee then get back into bed and read a chapter of a book, write my morning pages, my to dos list & write a few things into my gratitude journal. I shall now add a no complaining policy to my morning routine. Thanks a million.

  4. Kenneth Vogt says:

    Like anything we would like to quit, we have to first figure out what benefit we were getting from it. If your first reaction is to say, “What could I possibly get from complaining? I hate it!” then you are going to have a hard time letting go. If that were the truth of the situation, you would have quit long ago. So here are some possibilities:

    * I get to feel superior
    * I get to feel put upon
    * I get to feel victimized
    * I get to blame somebody (even myself)
    * I get sympathy
    * I inspire outrage in others
    * I feel camaraderie with fellow suffers
    Add your own of course. But start at the benefit, then find another way to get it. Better yet, find a superior thing to get another way. After that, it will be easier to let go of the habit you wish to quit. 

  5. Joan Cook says:

    I missed being at the gathering last Sunday.  I was with two of my  grandprincesses, being grateful for the closeness of a delightful 9 year old child and a vulnerable almost-teenager.  That was one of my great gratitude moments.  I mull over the memory when I get home, savoring it.  Me lucky?  Yup!

  6. Colleen says:

    Love this – simple really when you think about it, what on earth do we ever have to be complaining about?!  I like to think that I’m not a ‘complainer’, but now you’ve got me thinking about it I realise that over the years (which I AM truly grateful for) yeah I’ve complained about the plane being late, the movie not to my liking, the food not being what I like etc etc – when what really was happening was that I was about to head off on holiday and be there in a matter of hours!  Talk about impatience!  Thanks for the new perspective Ian, a real eye-opener this one, no more petty complaining for me 🙂  Do have a wonderful day!

  7. Diane says:

    Thank you for the reminder to hit “pause” and be thankful for all that is wonderful in my life.

  8. Xaka says:

    So true, so true! Sometimes, the wonder of this life overwhelms me and I scream out thanks to G-d for this beauty. It’s overwhelming! And, during times of struggle, I visit other Earth strugglers in my mind. When the shower water won’t get warm enough, I imagine all the people in the world who must bathe in freezing cold water, who have no running water in their homes and have to trek miles to get fresh water to use. We are so blessed.
    Good luck on your complaint-free journey, my friend. May I recommend this site for some inspiration?

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