Complaining is a hard habit to break. It doesn't take much effort and it actually has a pay off (in the short term). You get to feed your ego and ditch all responsibility for your own happiness, success, and well-being. Haven't had any luck finding a job? Complain. There must be something wrong with the hiring managers. Is there a long wait time at the restaurant you just got to? Complain. Obviously, the workers are too slow and incompetent. Got a speeding ticket on your way home? Complain. Clearly, that police officer has nothing else better to do with their life than badger you.
What happens when we complain, though, is that we weigh ourselves down with negativity, regret, and a general dissatisfaction with our lives. We harp on what we don't have, what we did wrong, or what others did wrong to us. We forget to think about everything that we do have, what we did right, and things that others have done to help us. Most importantly, we forget to be thankful. And truthfully, there is always something to be thankful for, especially when others have it much worse.
Haven't had any luck finding a job? That sucks, but at least you still have some money saved up. Long wait time at the restaurant you just got to? That sucks, but you and your friends can bond while you're waiting. Got a speeding ticket on your way home? That sucks, but at least you got home safely. It's okay to be sad, upset, hurt, or angry -- we shouldn't try to mask our emotions behind fake optimism; however, we should always try to see the good in our situations, not because we're playing 'misery Olympics' and since there are people dying of cancer, we should never be upset about what we face in our daily lives, but simply because being grateful feels good. It keeps us happy and helps us extend that same grace to others.
If you're feeling bitter today, think of South Sudan. According to Oxfam International, "This year's harvests [in South Sudan] will be poor or non-existent for many, this is an extremely worrying sign for the long dry months ahead. 4.8 million people — nearly half of the population — are facing extreme hunger." South Sudan has had a tough break since the onset of their civil war, which started in December 2013. More than 4 years of constant battle has destroyed their economy and threatened the lives of many, causing over 1 million South Sudanese people to flee the country, opting to go to neighboring countries such as Uganda and Ethiopia. In an article from Panntv, Nyabolli Chok, a local South Sudanese woman, reminisces about how she was unable to feed her three children, causing them to ultimately leave the country. "We were eating leaves off of trees," she cries.
Now, I don't know about you, but I think I'd rather have one hundred speeding tickets than to have to eat leaves off of trees. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty damn glad that the worst tragedy I've experienced this summer is having my study abroad plans fall through (long live the RU screw). When I think about the children in South Sudan that are hungry and in poverty, and the parents that feel like shit because they can't do anything to provide for their kids, I don't have it in me to complain. I don't have it in me to dwell on life's bumps and obstacles; because let's face it, we all have them, but we have the power to not let them control our thoughts and feelings.
If you're feeling bitter today, think of what you're grateful for. Praise yourself for what you've accomplished and smile about everything going right. And most of all, don't forget to help others.