Food for Thought – April 20th, 2017
Time flies! It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I packed away my Christmas decorations. NOW – April is nearly over! Just before Christmas, I got news from my cousins in Texas that they were planning a trip to West Virginia and their plans were to be here for several days for my mother’s birthday in April. All of us marked the weeks off the calendar, and even as the weeks ticked by, it seemed like such a long time to wait. NOW – they have been here and are gone already! Apparently it’s quite true that time flies when you’ve having fun! We had a wonderful time together and enjoyed the visit immensely. Mom and I wondered how it could happen that time dragged by so slowly while we waited for this to transpire; yet their time with us literally FLEW by so quickly. We decided to make it a little easier on ourselves by simply being thankful for the time we had with them instead of complaining that it wasn’t nearly enough.
This is true about everything in life! We complain too often. Would you believe that research shows that most people complain once a minute during a typical conversation?! It is tempting, supposedly, because it makes us feel better to vent. But complaining can easily become a permanent default behavior, which isn’t good. Health-wise, studies show that constant complaining affects lots of things in our bodies. It releases stress hormones and can affect blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, obesity, and our immune system – to name just a few. And socially, it’s not good either because your peers will tend to distance themselves from you if all you do is complain. The solution is to look on the bright side – even if you have to search for it!
Although this little story comes a little late (since the income tax deadline has now passed), it does provide a good example about complaining. One man was totally frustrated by having to pay out so much in taxes. He decided to visit an accountant to see if perhaps a professional could save him some money by helping him find some loophole that he was unaware of or a deduction he had missed. He sat across from the accountant and grumbled and complained while the professional wizard crunched all the numbers.
Finally, the accountant said he knew a way to cut the man’s taxes in half! The man stopped in mid-complaint and was all ears! “HOW?”, he asked. The accountant simply said, “Cut your salary in half.”
While it may be typical for us to complain when we feel we are running a little short on cash, we also complain when we are blessed with much. There will always be something we can find to complain about, and that is when we should take a step back and learn that we should devote just as much time to counting our blessings!
Let’s consider the seasons too and how it affects our weather AND our attitude ….. We complain about the time change and either losing or gaining an hour; we complain about cutting the grass but we also complain about having to shovel snow; we don’t like the extreme cold, but neither do we like the extreme heat and humidity. Complaints and more complaints … but we have to leave a little room for optimism. Personally, I am tickled to death that where I live I have the opportunity to witness and enjoy ALL the seasons – each one bringing perhaps a few inconveniences but also exhibiting its own beauty!
One more example …. I read some time ago about a couple whose five-month old baby had been diagnosed with a tragic incurable disease (the technical name I cannot recall). There was no hope; the baby’s life expectancy would not exceed another 18 months. Imagine being these parents and imagine their heartache! Still think YOU have something to complain about? They certainly had reasons to dwell on their dreadful situation, but instead, they chose to make every remaining day of their child’s life a celebration! On their child’s behalf, they prepared a bucket list of all the things their child would likely never experience. They went kite-flying; they danced at a make-believe prom; they toured a college campus; and the list went on and on … and they began fulfilling each item on the list and crossing them off. They kept a good attitude, packing as much LIFE into the baby’s remaining days and making as many memories as they possibly could. They decided that the only difference between a good day and a bad day was “attitude”, so they didn’t drain themselves with negativity. Instead they poured their energy into making the most of the time they had with their child.
So much for complaining! As time flies by, we need to remember that we are the PILOT! We are in charge of whether we fill our days with complaints or make the most of them. We all choose how to spend our days. We can either choose to dwell on not being satisfied with our lot in life OR we can look around ourselves and locate the blessings for which we can be thankful. Think of your attitude as a window … do you want to close the shades and darken the room OR open the shades and allow the light to come in? Imagine that complaints are seeds, and if you’re planting weeds, you can’t expect roses to grow!
My mother’s favorite saying has always been “Count your blessings”! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard her say that. I don’t like to boast, but my mom is apparently one smart woman! She complains very little; she finds something good in every day; and you’ll usually find a smile on her face. Maybe that’s why it is such a pleasure to be around her!
This week’s dessert: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.” ~ Winston Churchill