English Gesundheit Leben

COUNTING MISFORTUNES

Complaining does not work as a strategy. I read that quote a few days ago – somewhere on Instagram I guess – and it stayed with me. Because I don’t know about you, but does it feel like everyone is constantly complaining about something. No matter the topic or the occasion, there is always something that is just not right, and that something always keeps us from being happy.

We could be so happy if only we had more money…more love…more clothes / the right clothes…more time…a relationship…a bigger car… Our lives could be some much better if only that one thing wasn’t missing. It seems we only measure our happiness by counting all the things we do not have and then complain about it. Or we complain about the other people whose actions keep us from getting what it is we are missing in our lives. Because of course it always is somebody else’s fault.

When you complain, you make yourself a victim

It’s the politicians that are corrupt and ruining our society. It’s the foreigners that take away our jobs and money. It’s that asshole of a colleague who robbed us of our promotion. It’s our parents who messed us up, and now we keep failing at life. Everything that happens to us is never our fault and it always keeps happening no matter what. All the things we do not have are all the things we think we need to finally be happy.

I am not writing this to make you feel bad about yourself. I am writing it because I noticed myself doing that exact thing: Moping and complaining about everything I don’t have, and how it is all so unfair, and how everything would be so different if only… I don’t like this about myself because counting misfortunes and mistakes doesn’t really improve anything. All it does is make you feel bad about yourself, your choices and ultimately your life. There is this bottomless black hole inside myself that just grows bigger and bigger with every complaint and every regret, and sometimes I am afraid that one day I will fall into it and never resurface.

Someone else is happy with less than you have

The more I thought about this, and the more I became aware of it, the more I also noticed how I am not alone in this. Everybody seems to be extremely focused on complaining about something. Counting every misfortune and failure, almost like they are treasuring it. Looking for things that might disturb their happiness – and if there are no obvious ones, then they start to create some. It seems there always needs to be something to be unhappy about.

One of the most recent examples is my neighbor who seemingly has it all: A wife, two cute kids, judging by his two SUVs he makes good money and on top of it, he also has two dogs. He actually has most of the things my life lacks (except I really don’t like big cars). But is he happy and enjoying it? No, he instead made it his purpose in life to patrol our parking lot, checking where everyone parks their cars. Because apparently, he feels that it’s his job in life to make sure everyone parks at the same spot every day – even though there are no assigned parking spots for tenants. So, what he does is more or less harassing everyone (and by that, I mean me) who keeps parking wherever there is free spot.

Misery loves company

This example also shows how your own unhappiness can affect other people’s happiness as well. Because if only that stupid guy wasn’t patrolling the parking lot EVERY FUCKING DAY, I would enjoy coming home a great deal more. But it’s not really true though is it? It’s that guy who has a problem, not me. It’s that guy, who is unhappy. So instead of complaining about him, I asked him yesterday, why he thinks he has a right to tell me where to park, and if he could show me the section in the lease contract that specifies assigned parking slots. He just left. I know that he is probably angry now and probably dislikes me even more but again – it’s not my problem. It’s his.

“Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”

Randy Pausch

It is the way we view things that determine our happiness. You can complain about being stuck in a death end job with not enough money or you can invest your energy into finding a better one. Complaining, I’ve come to realize is nothing but a waste of time. So, from now on, I will focus on the fortunes and chances and hope for the best. What about you?

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