An attitude of gratitude that grows legs!

Posted: 11/08/2012 in Life
Tags: ,

While standing in the queue at a local supermarket I saw the guy behind me roll his eyes and sigh. I understood why. There were only two isles open and both of us had one item each. The woman in front was not only purchasing the entire supermarket (at least it felt that way) but returning some items. I tried not to make eye contact with the man behind me; I didn’t want to get caught up in his frustration but then I heard my own thoughts and they were no more patient than his. Here I was judging him for the very thing I was doing. That’s one enormous log in my eye! I too had been sighing and shuffling my feet and it occurred to me that whether I show it or speak it or think it, I complain a lot! So I started trying to figure out why, and believe me there was plenty of time to do that. As far as today’s incident goes, I could blame it on being time poor, inefficient supermarket operations, the lady in front of me but exactly what will that achieve? She is being served, there are two isles open, I have no choice but to wait and there is not a thing I can do about it. All the huffing and sighing and shoe shuffling and eye rolling and making that non-verbal “this is ridiculous” look with the guy behind me is not going to achieve anything but to make me hot under the collar. And I’ll just look like the impatient grumbler that I so readily judge everyone else for being (while doing it myself). Perhaps I have a saw mill and not just a log in my eye!

I have come to realise in the last few weeks that I spend an awful lot of time complaining about meaningless, pointless things when I have ten thousand more things to be grateful for. And today was one of the many reminders I’ve had lately. Slowly, slowly my thinking is shifting.

  • How can I complain about housework when I have a house and not a single room tin shed that I share with my entire family?
  • How can I complain about mowing and weeding when my backyard is not a rubbish tip or a laneway filled with sewage?
  • How can I complain about washing my windows when I don’t have to walk miles to collect dirty water just to drink?
  • How can I complain about the wait at the doctor when I have numerous GP’s and hospitals within 50km of my house?
  • How can I complain about the cost of electricity when I can sit down in front of my TV for hours on end while playing with my computer, iPad, iPhone, kindle, MP3, playstation etc…
  • How can I complain if the kids say they are bored when my child hasn’t been kidnapped and forced to become a child soldier?
  • How can I complain about the piles of laundry when I have enough clothes that I could wear 50 outfit combinations a day and still not have gone through my entire wardrobe?
  • How can I complain about the queue at the supermarket when I have more groceries to choose from than some people would eat in a lifetime?
  • How can I complain about my old car when I don’t have to walk miles to work or school with the threat of being raped or robbed?
  • How can I complain about traffic congestion when I have an abundance of well-constructed roads that will get me anywhere I want to go?
  • How can I complain about overcrowded classrooms when my children are guaranteed education?
  • How can I complain about my wage when I haven’t been sold into slave labour?
  • How can I complain about the cost of lamb when there are those who don’t’ know if they’ll eat today?
  • How can I complain about my minor cold when I’m not faced with the daily threat of rabies, tuberculosis, malaria, HIV or dysentery?
  • How can I complain about the queue at the fast food store when my child doesn’t look like a skeleton?
  • How can I complain about how cold winter’s been when I have jumpers, jackets, an electric blanket, doona and heater and I’m not sleeping under a cardboard box?
  • How can I complain about the heat of summer when it’s not going lead to a severe shortage of crops, loss of livestock, starvation, dehydration and death?
  • How can I complain about how long this blog is when, by the time I’ve finished writing it around 600 people living in poverty will have died, half of them children under five?

In our first world countries we are not without problems but for those of us doing ok, many of our “problems” are associated with our luxuries. Our roads are congested yes, but they are congested with people going to work, to visit family or friends or to go shopping. Some of our classrooms might be a little overcrowded but our kids have easy access to education. Our cost of living is rising and for some that is more than a challenge but for most of us it just takes away some money we would have spent on ourselves anyway. We live in a consumerist society, we want more of what we already have and envy what our neighbours have even though we don’t want it. We overfill our bellies, decorate our houses and amuse ourselves with whatever new gadget has come out. I am pointing the finger directly at myself here. I can get frustrated sure, but it’s time to get over it real quick and look beyond my frustration at my blessings. As someone who is blessed, abundantly blessed, what right do I have to complain about the results of those blessings? Because I am so far removed from those who live without it often seems only a tragic story. What can I possibly do for those in my nation and those overseas? There are things I already do but I can do so much more and it starts with my attitude.  I can change my thinking and as I change my thinking, I believe my attitudes and actions will change. I want my gratitude to grow legs in my community and beyond!


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