Reflect on the good, and stop the complaining

By Kate Cullen

The art of complaining is not hard to master. It is a skill devoid of technique, and it seems everyone who has gone through puberty is an expert at it. 

Complaining is effortless. 

It is second nature to most and is synonymous with the universal idea that we have an inherent right to proclaim our misfortunes to the world. This idea has evolved from living in a society that makes “first-world problems” a trending hashtag on Twitter, facilitating people to complain about the most mundane things like sitting in traffic.

Everyone is guilty of it, even me. And as I write this, I am thinking about all of the things I complained about today. Some of my complaints were said to others, a few were thought in my head, but none was justified. None of them even mattered — but I complained anyway. 

We complain to find empathy in others and crave that moment of attention when others will admit their lives are not as difficult as ours, that they feel sorry for us. Only then do we win the unspoken competition of who has it the worst, whose life is the hardest. Many people are validated by this game that no one acknowledges but everyone plays.

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Instead of taking the opportunity to reflect on our own lives and the unfairness inflicted upon us, maybe we can transform that moment into a chance to embrace the fact that everyone has tedious tasks they must complete. Everyone has things happen to them that are not necessarily deserved, and complaining about those things will only provide momentary satisfaction; it will not change the reality of the situation.

That is not to say I don’t enjoy the occasional night-in centered on wine and the opportunity for everyone to share their deepest annoyances with the world. And by no means am I suggesting that we should suppress how we feel and live a solitary existence where we don’t talk to others about the things going on in our lives. 

Some might even suggest I’m complaining about complaining.

However, I’m simply asserting the idea that maybe we don’t need to complain about every little thing that vexes us, that we don’t have a right to think we are the center of the world and everything must fall perfectly into place for us. 

That’s not how it works for anyone.

It seems those who truly have the most to complain about, and are justified in doing so, usually choose to abstain from this past time. That’s because those are the people who know what matters. They know that minor annoyances are inconsequential, and they choose to overlook them by filling the space conserved for small temper tantrums over absolutely nothing with gratitude for what is and wonderment for what will be.

Studying for a test on an obscene amount of information, having to wake up earlier than construction workers, getting an unfair grade from a disgruntled professor, going to work — all things that students complain about on a daily basis, flowing from their mouths as easily as air. 

It’s possible that we can transcend this phenomenon by thinking about other people and the things they may have to overcome during their day. Keeping in mind the humbling fact that someone else’s life may be the slightest bit more challenging than ours will provide an enlightening perspective that could keep us from dwelling on insignificant things.

Instead of our common complaints, think about this: We have an education where we are challenged, we get to wake up each day, we can learn from our mistakes, and we have job opportunities. 

Reflecting on the good, instead of the bad, will make others envious of you and could change the way you look at your own life. 

Kate is a senior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].