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The Clue in Complaints

We are blessed in so many ways and yet many times we don’t realize or recognize it. As a result, the general demeanor of our lives is characterized by complaining rather than gratitude. At any given time, the average person is less likely to be actively grateful and more likely to be indifferent and worse, ungrateful for the current state of their lives. Yet, what we complain about can be a clue to how fortunate we are.

For example, suppose you are driving to work and you are delayed by a few extra red lights. You complain about it because it has delayed you by 5 minutes.

Instead, suppose, as you are driving along, you run over a nail, your car wobbles and you end up with a flat tire. You sigh, because now you have to pull the car to the side of the road, pull out the wrench, and change the tire. You will now be late to work by 2 hours.

Instead, at a red light, suppose you were rear-ended by an inattentive driver, and your fender became damaged. You shake your head (and say some words) because now you have to pull over to the side of the road, call the insurance company, and follow up at a car shop to get it repaired. It will delay you by a few hours and you have to go another day to get the car repaired.

Instead, suppose your car was smashed by a speeding driver. You will likely miss the whole day at work while you get your car towed to the shop. You will also need multiple days off as you fix your car.

Suppose, your car was totaled and you suffered a broken leg. Now you have to call someone to take you to the emergency room and to a few orthopedic appointments. Your car needs major repair and will be unavailable for multiple days. Your leg could be in a cast for six weeks with mild alteration to your life.

Suppose, instead, your car was totaled and you suffered head trauma with bleeding into the brain. Now, the issue is brain deficit with numerous months lost at work and major life changes. You might complain (when you finally get out of the ICU) about the lost days and brain deficit due to the trauma. However, you definitely won't be complaining about a couple of extra red lights, would you? In fact, you will long for a couple of extra red lights instead of anything else that could happen.

If we are complaining about red lights, then it merely shows that we are not in a car accident, with damage to the car and body. Our complaints are a clue to how fortunate we are. Instead, when we come to a couple of red lights (and any other roadblock in life), rather than complaining about them, why not thank God that we are not in the ICU with brain damage?

Life could always be worse and so there is always reason to be grateful.

What are we complaining about right now?

Conversely, what can be grateful for now?

Photo by John Arano on Unsplash


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