Petty: “to be focused on things of little importance, having undue concern for trivial matters, especially in a small-minded or spiteful way.”
We live in a culture of pettiness and negativity. Have you seen the news? It has become the social norm. We have come to expect a certain degree of negativity from each other. When someone is positive, we are likely to question their sincerity. Our culture of abundance has produced people who are critical about the most trivial things – as if it was “cool” to gripe and complain. It has soaked into us so that we hardly realize the impact on our daily lives. We have absorbed negativity into our souls and the consequences are pretty frightening.
Every day it happens – someone asks you how you are doing and what do you say? “Well, I’m ok I guess. I didn’t sleep much last night but…” Or, “I’d be better if my boss would stop with all these assignments…” Or, “I’m alright; I just wish my phone would stop ringing.” It’s like there is a cultural mandate to pick something negative to say instead of the 10,000 Good things we have going on. I am shocked as I consider how often I tend to complain or respond with something negative when I could just as easily be positive.
The truth is we could all just as easily pick something positive to share. We could promote the Good things in our lives instead of focusing on the negative. It is no more difficult to promote something good than it is to murmer and gripe. It takes no more thought or effort – unless you are out of practice. (Are you out of practice?)
What would happen if you decided to train yourself to focus on the Good? What if you said, “Well, I had my favorite coffee this morning and I got to work on time!” Or, “I slept great last night and I feel energized.” Or, “You know, I am so fortunate to have a job that I like.” Or whatever your positive things are – your kids, your spouse, your great score on the latest video game – whatever. How can we allow ourselves to gripe when there is so much Good around us?
For the most part, we are all incredibly fortunate and live our lives well above the global standard. Do you think people in war torn countries would dare complain about the temperature of their food or the lack of variety at the grocery store? How absurd! The way we behave in America is ridiculous sometimes – and yet I meet wonderful people all the time who I think really want to live “Good” focused lives.
So what can we do to stop the insanity of pettiness?
LISTEN to yourself – start paying attention to the things you say. Make a mental note of how often you are negative or complaining. Be honest with yourself about it. How much of a complainer are you really? Do you get hung up on petty things?
REALIZE that this is a human condition of our culture – this is the way it works. We have been trained to ignore Goodness. We have learned to overlook it. The Good things go right past us while the BAD or negative things become our focus. Living in our abundant culture we have become obsessed with OUR OWN COMFORT. We expect things to be a certain way and we feel justified in complaining about it when they aren’t. We don’t like the current politics and so we spew anger and extremes instead of having constructive conversations. We are obsessed with ourselves and our narrow little world. But things can be different…
DETERMINE to break the cycle – Make up your mind that you are going to change the way you see and react to the world. Decide that this is a change you want to make. Set some goals for yourself that fit your life. If you’re REALLY COMMITED – tell the people around you that you want to curb your complaining or punch out pettiness – let them help motivate you. If you are crazy committed then ask them to stop you when you start complaining.
RETRAIN your brain – Goodness Athletics for the Brain
Begin to exercise your positivity because it has atrophied with lack of use. Every time you hear yourself start to gripe, complain, or be petty – STOP! Stop the negative and say three things that you are thankful for or are Goodness in your life. Do it every single time you catch yourself. If you are in a conversation – just explain that you are bravely trying to retrain yourself – maybe you will inspire someone else. Begin the practice of NOTICING THE GOOD STUFF until it starts to stand out. It takes time but it is amazing how your perspective will change!
WHY SHOULD YOU BOTHER?
This is the most important part – negativity affects your health and wellbeing. It is poison to your soul, AND, consequently, poison to those you love. But GOODNESS is life-giving. If you focus on negative things you will draw negative things to you. If you focus on the positive you will find that positive things will come your way. We attract these things to our lives.
So it is only fair to YOU to Break the Hold of Pettiness and Complaining and get on to the Good stuff!!
Are you a whiner? Do you gripe? Let Goodness help!