Whining, and other nasty habits

We all know them; those people who are always whining about something. Or talking about how unlucky they are. Or extolling the virtues of having nothing good happen to them. I have a friend or two like that. They wear me down if I listen to them too long. And, I’ll admit it, there are times I want to slap the whine right out of them. I want to rant and jump up and down on their heads and tell them how good they have it compared to some other people I know. I don’t know what makes some people so negative while others are always positive no matter what happens.

I have to think about my own life and how negative I used to be. When I hear my friends whining about inconsequential things, I think back to when I was younger – was a a whiner like that? And the answer is, yes, I probably was. I felt so beaten down by my life that I couldn’t see anything positive. I did manage to change how I thought, and I try to help others to become more positive. But I forgot that in order for someone to change, s/he has to first realize there is a reason to change, and then has to want to change. There are people who are perfectly happy being miserable – my mother was one of those. So they are not going to change.

I have one friend, I’ll call her Karen, who is going through a difficult time right now. She has cancer, no job, and no health insurance. She could so easily fall into the pity pot and whine and cry; but she didn’t. She set out to find how she could get her life saving surgery and gathered up an impressive support network. I know she will be fine.

I have another friend, I’ll call her Kathy, who has a wonderful life. She has a good job, a strong family connection, and friends all over the world. But she is constantly whining about how she can’t find a good man; about how the only luck she ever has is bad luck; and how some of these bad things ‘could only happen’ to her. She doesn’t really believe she has any worth, and she will continue to attract negative events and people to her.

I truly believe we teach people who to treat us by how we treat ourselves. Karen has friends who would do anything for her; Kathy has friends who will continue to use and abuse her. The only difference between these two people is their attitude about life and their expectations about how life will treat them.

Living the good life

What does it mean to live a good life? Does it mean to be rich? Successful? Young? Beautiful? Or none of the above?

My mother always used to tell me to be thankful for what I have; don’t rock the boat; don’t tempt fate; and all those other platitudes that basically meant ‘know your place and stay in it’. Her generation of women were content (?) to be married and let the husband take care of everything while they raised the kids and kept house. And there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want to do and be. That is not what I wanted, so I was constantly swimming upstream to fight for what I wanted not what society told me I wanted.

There were times when I succumbed, but just for a while. I became a nurse, which led to meeting my husband, which led to my having two wonderful sons. Nursing became merely a job, a way to bring money into the house, and I soon grew tired of being the breadwinner. But I persevered and became more and more unhappy and frustrated with my life. I was the perennial pessimist and never caught a break.

But then something changed. I divorced my husband; my kids were grown and out on their own; it was time for me. So at the age of 44, I applied for grad school, was accepted, and moved to Arizona by myself (well, except for my dog!) where I knew nobody.

Grad school was rough at first, but I was always a good student and earned my MA. But I still was a pessimist. Although I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, I had been too busy trying to keep body and soul together through grad school.

Gradually, I began to realize that being a pessimist was a self-fulfilling prophecy; if I focussed on how bad things were, that’s all I would get. I don’t remember how I learned about it, but I began to keep a gratitude journal and things began to change. My focus switched to what was right in my life instead of what was wrong. And I started to get more good stuff. Not material things – but good feelings and good things happening.

So here I am several years later. Then a little over a year ago, I began a Gratitude Journal blog because I wasn’t remembering to write in my personal gratitude journal every day. I thought if I committed to a daily blog entry, I would be accountable to my followers (if I got any!) and wouldn’t give up. And I was right. I think in the course of the 13 months, more or less, I have kept the journal online, I have only forgotten maybe 2 or 3 times to post something.

Life isn’t always fantastic, but my attitude towards what happens in my life has certainly changed for the better. I am living the good life. I’m not rich. I don’t have a big house, a fancy car, and I work to earn money to pay the bills. I have friends. I have people who follow my blog because they think I have something to say worth reading.

Yes, life is good.