I sit here in my dorm room in the student center of my college campus. I sit here and I remember, I remember what I’ve been hearing.
Certain phrases about the same ideas keep tumbling out of people’s mouths. They tumble from so many people who are so different, but the messages are so similar.
They are complaints.
And the complaints are about central topics. Sitting here, I’ve got to thinking. Maybe some of these elements we (apparently) are so irritated about can be turned around; we can turn them around for areas to give us energy instead of places to make us frustrated.
Here are two of the most common complaints that could use a perspective shift:
1. Our TirednessYes, college can mean a ton is happening and you hardly have the energy to keep up, let alone thrive. You have assignments due, a job to do, a meeting to attend, a campus event, a club to join, a mile to run, an internship to apply for, and a social life to somehow manage.
Sleep seems to often get pushed to the bottom of this list. And tiredness? Well, it almost becomes a “trophy” that we throw around as a complaint. “How are you?” “Oh good, just tired…” Sometimes, the “trophy” becomes a little too heavy, though, and we honestly wish we didn’t carry it. “I’m just so tired today…”
Well, reality is, the amount we sleep (like anything else in our life) actually is up to our own personal choice. Even if it is homework that’s keeping us up, we still could choose to sleep instead. Often, it’s not just homework that’s keeping us from shut-eye. Life and all that is meant by living is impetus to stay awake for it.
What if we, then, instead, choose to change our conversation? What if we focused on the reasons for our tiredness instead of its negative effects?
“How are you?” “Well, I didn’t get as much sleep as I needed, but you know I was able to have a solid conversation with my roommate, and that made it so worth it...”
We can choose to stop complaining about how much we have going on and how tired that makes us.
We can choose, instead, to focus on enjoying each aspect of the life that is keeping us from sleeping.
We can choose to focus on the happiness of living life as fully as we can instead of making life seem empty by focusing on the bad: the irritation of tiredness.
2. Other People
“Did you see what she did?” “Did you hear about what he said?” “Can you believe she actually would think that?”
College campuses mean college people: people with different values, views, and lifestyles than you may have.
Chances are, with all the variety, you have found some aspects of people that you absolutely love and wish you were more like.
But chances also are, with all the variety, you find aspects of people that drive you a little crazy and that you really don’t appreciate.
It’s easy to focus your words on pointing out these aspects that you don’t find as positive. It’s easy to criticize and complain about other people (especially when they hurt you or threaten your way of life or happiness).
Each one of us chooses our words, though.
What if we, instead, made a different choice?
What if we didn’t only point out the elements that irritate us about other people, but pointed out something we appreciate about them, too?
“She always has the smarty answer in class, but you know, I am thankful that she’s brought up some points that made the professor specifically talk about what’s going to be on the exam.”
We can choose to stop focusing on what we don’t like about other people who are different than us.
We can choose, instead, to talk about aspects of these people that are good.
And—maybe most importantly—we can choose, instead, to actually stop complaining about these people but talking to them.
We can stop complaining. We can change our conversations. And maybe—if we did this—we could change more.
The way we view our lives could start to change and be colored by more thankfulness.
They way we view others could start to change, and would could start appreciating and helping the people around us.
The choice is ours.