Recently, I asked a clerk how his day was going. He responded by telling me that he had no complaints. I told him that it was a great day indeed when we choose not to complain.
Complaining is one of those activities that many of us do unconsciously. We habitually notice what is not working and feel the need to verbalize it. We must have some belief that complaining will change the nature of the situation.
In fact, it works in just the opposite way. The moment we complain, we bring the unwanted element into the forefront of our attention. When we focus on those things that don’t please us, they take up the space in our minds, and we become even more unhappy.
Our environment reflects that which we focus on the most. Emmet Fox, renowned New Thought teacher of the early 20th Century says, “Thought is the real causative force in life, and there is no other. You cannot have one kind of mind and another kind of environment. This means that you cannot change your environment while leaving your mind unchanged, nor . . . can you change your mind without your environment changing too.”
Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Our prayers consist of our ongoing thoughts and words. So every complaint is actually a prayer.
Back in the 1930s at the height of the depression, Fox wrote an article called “The 7 Day Mental Diet” challenging people to abstain from negative thinking for seven days. He tells us that during this time, “You must not allow yourself to dwell for a single moment on any kind of negative thought.” He goes on to give very specific kinds of examples and instructions to assist us with this challenge. He says that it will be one of the most difficult endeavors that we can undertake yet, if persistently practice, will change our lives. He states that conditions will not only change, but that the difficult conditions will disappear altogether.
This is a tall order to dedicate seven days to thinking only happy, life affirming thoughts. This does not mean that there are some really tough things in our lives. This is not about denying the facts. It is about choosing our response to the circumstances.
I can hear the naysayers out there insisting that this is nonsense. Yet, I ask, “What do we have to lose?” Really, what harm can come from choosing happy thoughts instead of dark and gloomy thoughts. How could it possibly hurt to say something positive and appreciative instead of something negative and hurtful?
Just like we would not run a marathon without training, we don’t decide to one day never to think another negative thought again and expect to be successful. Instead, we can exercise this muscle of positive thinking with practice periods. Start with a certain time of your day where you reframe from complaining and instead expect the best in the situation. Even though the conditions may be harsh, find something good, and focus on that. Then each day, stretch the time of positive thinking to longer and longer periods.
Another exercise to build the mental muscle of life-affirming thinking is to pick a person and vow to appreciate him/her no matter what. It does not mean that you have to like everything about the person. You simply choose to focus on his/her best. Start with someone you care for and make it a point to notice what you like about him/her. Take it a step further by sharing your appreciation with your loved one.
And most of all, watch your complaining. When you find yourself wanting to comment negatively on something, ask yourself if you can do something about it and if so, then do it. If not, then find something good about the situation and comment on that. Fox tells us that as we make this kind of radical change in our thinking, our world and the conditions in them have to change as well. It is the law.
Join Felicia for her upcoming “Think and Grow Rich” teleconference class, Monday evenings from 7-8 p.m. starting Sept. 12. Go to feliciasearcy.com for more information.