Acceptance: A Novel Approach to (Not) Complaining

10/10/2016 01:45 pm ET

Complaining, blaming and whining are not my thing. Truly not. If anything, I get annoyed when I hear other people complaining, blaming or whining. I think of myself as an appreciative and positive individual, indeed, I have worked diligently at maintaining that attitude throughout my life.

And yet . . . the other day I was sitting quietly, minding my own business, typing away on this very laptop, while the man next to me in our crowded economy-class section of the airplane, kept hogging the arm-rest between us. As I persisted in trying to find an – if not comfortable – at least workable position for my elbow, I fussed and fumed internally at the situation. “How selfish he is, how thoughtless!” I grumbled to myself, “Doesn’t the dude realize he’s practically poking me in the ribs?”

With that, I realized, in a light-bulb moment that made me cringe, that I do complain, blame and whine! I just don’t do it out loud. I don’t speak it to other people. I think it to myself. But it’s no less yucky for all of that. And no less detrimental to myself and those around me. For, as science has long demonstrated, the electro-magnetic energy each one of us emits extends beyond our physical bodies. So my doggy-downer energy of complaining not only eats away at the health of my immune system, but also can impact adversely the energy of those around me. Aargh!

Suddenly a lyric from the musical “Gypsy Rose Lee” flashed across my mind: “Sing out, Louise!” I had a choice. I could either open my mouth, voice my distress and see if my seatmate and I could come to some sort of mutually agreeable arrangement, or I could accept something that was other than the way I might prefer it to be. Either way, I would stop the complaining. And that made me smile.

Accordingly, I made a conscious decision in this case to “sing out,” and found out that the man was oblivious to his arm-rest hogging, which then led to a very pleasant conversation about his work, my work, our respective hobbies and the like, with my elbow to the rear of the arm-rest, his toward the front, which suited each of us very well.

The next few days were an eye-opener. I discovered, to my dismay, just how much of that internal complaining I had going on, but more importantly, I also discovered how liberating it was to consciously make decisions, case by case, of whether I wanted to “sing out” or relax in genuine acceptance of what was.

Oh, the challenge continues, for the committee in my head still finds reasons to complain, but at least now I am – for the most part – aware of when it starts its negative chatter, and I can do something more constructive than give in to it. Accept graciously, which I find suits me very well much of the time, or voice my discontent with an eye to resolution.

Freedom of choice. Quite literally priceless. For with it, I found a peacefulness, a serenity I didn’t even know I lacked.

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