Do you sometimes hear yourself complaining, just to contribute to the conversation? I have to admit I’ve sometimes been sucked into the, “You think you’ve got it bad? Well, listen to this!” competition and wondered afterward when it became a good thing to be seen as the biggest victim.
Maybe it is a result of entertainment overload. In fiction, whether TV, movies, or books, it is necessary for the hero to overcome the forces working against him or her. To maintain drama, one difficulty follows another until the end of the story. Each challenge is followed by an even greater difficulty, leaving no time to enjoy the victory and experience peace. This may be good television, but it is no way to live.
We all want to be the hero of our own life story, so maybe we are trying to keep our audience interested by emphasizing our struggles. Whatever the motive, too many of us are dwelling on our disappointments and failing to enjoy the good times, at least in our conversations. This can lead to a habit of negativity, of looking for things to complain about and overlooking the blessings in our circumstances and in the people who share our lives.
Besides spreading gloom wherever we go, we are doing ourselves no favor with all the drama. Happy people have younger hearts, younger arteries, and recover more quickly from surgery. Happy people cope better with pain, have lower blood pressure, have stronger immune systems and live longer than unhappy people.
Not surprisingly, happy people are better at looking after their own health, too. When happiness levels improve, so do health behaviors.
Fiction writers need to keep throwing in difficulties to entertain the audience and it can be inspirational to read about someone overcoming seemingly impossible odds. However, most of us would prefer not to deal with such drama and danger in our real lives.
I can choose to portray myself as the tragic hero of my personal mini-series or I can remember that happiness is a choice. While I can’t always control my circumstances, I can control my attitude.
Most people would rather spend time with upbeat, positive people than drama queens and complainers. So, if you hear yourself making two complaints or criticisms for every one expression of praise and thanksgiving, you may be choosing unhappiness, not only for yourself, but for your companions.
Unhappiness is not only a choice… it is highly contagious… but the antidote is readily available: equal measures of gratitude and joy.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)