Before you read any farther, please stop and note what time it is. Remember the time, because for the next 24 hours I invite you to join me in taking the challenge to abide by the advice offered in the box above: Go 24 hours without complaining. (Not even once.) Can you do it? Can I do it? Of course we can. Will we? That remains to be seen.
Negativity is easy and rampant. The half-empty view of life is all around us. Like a virus, it’s highly contagious. Being cynical is defended as simply being realistic. Pick a topic — whether it be politics, religion, families, today’s youth, health care, or education. and it’s easy to find naysayers espousing their negativity about what’s wrong with _______(fill in the blank).
As part of the annual celebration of Halloween, millions of children will knock on peoples’ door next week and greet those who answer with a simple question, “trick or treat?” Treats will almost always be given, and thus the tricks will be avoided. In a sense, the question, “trick or treat?” is a great question, not just for Halloween, but as a question that asks each of us to reflect on how we see ourselves, our life, and the world around us.
Seeing life as primarily a trick gives rise to negativity which naturally gives rise to expressions of complaint. Seeing life as primarily a treat gives rise to a positive attitude and expressions of gratitude. Life is, of course, a mixture of tricks and treats. Bad things happen to good people. Life is truly not fair. at. What I am talking about here though, is one’s pervasive attitude about one’s life, work, family, friends, and life itself. Do you see life primarily as a trick or a treat? What do your comments and complaints tell others about how you see the world?
If you have a habit of being a negative, complaining person, I invite you, in the spirit of Halloween, to dress up as a positive, grateful person from now until Halloween. If that seems like more than you can handle, then try dressing up as a hopeful, “half-full” person for at least the next 24 hours. Of course, if you have been a negative person for some time, people around you will recognize that you are dressing up as someone who’s not really you, but that will be okay. Over time, you, and others around you, may like the new, less frightening look you will be sporting, and it might start to grow on you. Eventually, it might not end up being a costume after all!
Okay, unless you have uttered some negative words while reading this column, you have 23 hours 57 minutes left in your challenge for zero tolerance when it comes to complaining. If you slip up, the clock starts over again until you have accomplished a complaint free 24 hours. Have fun with this little trick and invite others to try it as well. And know that as you do this, you will providing a treat not just for yourself, but for the people who know you best.