Yesterday was my 36th birthday.
It was just another Tuesday: morning workout, coffee & breakfast, work, sports massage (ok that was not a normal Tuesday activity), work, afternoon workout, play with dog, dinner, work calls, some personal development research, then bed.
With a few additional “happy birthday” calls and texts in between.
I spent the days leading up to my birthday just dreading the fact that is was coming. Dreading how I was going to feel on the day. Dreading the passing of another year and not feeling like I had achieved …whatever it is that I feel is in me to achieve in this lifetime.
But, the day just passed like any other day, and I didn’t feel depressed, nor exhilarated. I just felt….neutral. Which is normal I guess, after all, a birthday is just another day!
Yet I failed in my attempt to be mindful in this instance – because although on my birthday came and went without incident, I wasted literally days prior to it feeling anxious about:
being 36 and recently
being 36 and still struggling to get on top of my finances;
being 36 never having achieved my goal weight/body composition;
being 36 and still living in the same city I was born in;
being 36 and still feeling nervous about my job;
being 36 and not knowing how to cook my mum’s infamous continental cake….
The list – invariably – goes on.
And when I reach the bottom of the list of things to worry about, I start right back at the beginning again.
So, despite all of my recent efforts to the contrary, observing where I am in my life without emotion and with acceptance, is still quite a challenge for me.
I am allowing my negative thoughts to strip me of my power.
I attended an Innovation event a couple of months ago and one of the presenters had developed an education tool on a gaming platform that teaches people in the workplace to identify hazards and how to rectify them. It was empowering people to be proactive and take responsibility for their own safety and that of the their colleagues.
The message stuck in my mind – it applies to so many areas in my life, but yesterday I decided to focus on just one, and I have decided to take action (and responsibility).
For the next month I QUIT COMPLAINING.
I will inevitably think of complaints, I’m sure, but the rule is that I am not allowed to utter a complaint and I hope that by consciously stopping the complaint from being audibly formed, I will automatically turn the complaint around, into a positive, or at the very least, “emotion neutral” reaction. I hope that I will be able to consciously just let it go.
Complaining is an empty, pointless activity. It doesn’t solve a problem – though it certainly highlights them – but I think complaining is distinct from, say, constructive criticism. Complaints lack any attempt to take responsibility for trying to fix the problem.
I complain a lot more than I should. Sometimes I regret the words the moment they pass my lips. Sometimes I regret them before they pass my lips but I still allow them. It’s an awful feeling because I know it stems from envy:
If others have a better life than me, then at the very least they can feel sympathetic about the fact that my life isn’t as great as theirs.
It’s a “victim” mentality, really. Logically I know that I – and I alone – am responsible for my life. When I’m complaining about it, I’m not solving whatever is upsetting me, but I am burdening others with my discontent, in that moment making it their responsibility to cheer me up.
Everyone has their stuff.
I am not special!
It has been said that it takes 4 weeks to form a habit.
1 month. 4 weeks. 30 days.