Our daughter is afraid of storms after a bad experience during a particularly windy one last year. Last night she asked me if we would have storms this week after I mentioned we were expecting rain today and tomorrow. I drew this for her and left it for her when I left for work this morning.
I don’t often come across people who complain a lot and are otherwise upbeat about life and their path through it. Rather, the only thing complaining seems to achieve is reminding you how unhappy you are. Instead, either do something about whatever you are complaining about or change your expectations to suit your circumstances.
Sure, challenges are real (in a sense) and we have to acknowledge them before we can tackle them but just complaining about them doesn’t make them go away. If anything, complaining about something feeds it, magnifies it because we focus so much attention on it that we lose perspective.
This reminds me of that great discussion about fear in After Earth when Cypher Raige, Will Smith’s character, discusses fear with his son:
Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.
Not complaining isn’t easy. I do it far more often than I’d like but, at the same time, it helps to be mindful of when you are complaining, even if you don’t have a more productive way of dealing with the underlying issue. It all begins with that mindfulness because once you have that, you empower yourself to make a real change in your life, however small.
When that mindfulness becomes a habit, all those little changes accumulate and you begin to feel like you may just be steering the course of more and more of your life.
One thing for sure though: complaining doesn’t achieve anything but remind you how unhappy you are, how little influence you allow yourself to have over your life.
I finally watched After Earth a couple nights ago. It received pretty lousy reviews and I was expecting a big disappointment. It wasn’t the best movie I have seen but I enjoyed it. One quote stood out for me. It is about the nature of fear which is a strong central theme of the movie:
Cypher Raige: Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story and that day mine changed.
Will Smith’s character included this as part of his account to his son of how he came to understand the nature of fear and make new choices about it. If I remember correctly, this was about 50 minutes into the movie.
Regardless of the movie’s quality, there is a lot to be said for this quote and it is something which I think about fairly often.
I love this paragraph from Seth Godin’s latest post titled “Fear, scarcity and value“:
The shortcut is simple: if you’re afraid of something, of putting yourself out there, of creating a kind of connection or a promise, that’s a clue that you’re on the right track. Go, do that.