Last week, I wrote about how this time of year feels so much more like “New Year’s” than January, when I’m typically entering winter hibernation mode. And in the spirit of that new-year feeling, I resolved to focus on a few changes I’d like to make. I started with being a more mindful listener.
How’d last week go? Well, I’m probably not going to be the next Dalai Lama anytime soon (I don’t know; I guess I picture him as being a great listener!). But in my work life and my personal life I felt like I was noticing myself resisting the urge to steamroll people in conversations at least a little more than normal. And I plan to keep that top of mind moving forward.
So what’s on tap for week two? I’m working on reining in a bad habit of mine that’s become so common I don’t always realize just how bad it is…
Yep, sometimes I complain. A lot. The thing about complaining is, it starts out with a couple things that are bothering you, before sucking you into a spiral of negativity. Before you know it, you’ve got a metaphorical cloud over your head and can’t explain why it feels like you’re having a terrible day.
Being a journalist, I’ve said for years that complaining is second nature to us; it’s our job to find out what’s wrong in the world and point it out. Sometimes we’re too skilled at recognizing faults for our own good. But I’m determined to separate that instinct from my outlook toward life.
I’m only a novice when it comes to the teachings of Buddhism and the mindfulness movement. But one thing that’s been drilled into my mind is the benefit of practicing gratitude. And that’s basically the opposite of the complaints I hear myself rattling off.
So as I try to bite my tongue this week, I’m keeping in mind this quote I love, from Gandhi:
I won’t place the pressure of my entire destiny on my words just yet, but I will recognize that every day I have a choice between negativity and gratitude. When I want to open my mouth and complain, I will turn my thoughts to what’s good in my life… or at the very least say nothing at all.
Wish me luck, as I know this will be quite the challenge! And I hope you’ll join me in my efforts this week.