A couple years ago I came across an ad for a counselor that promised the prospective client their money back if they weren’t completely satisfied. I don’t know if that’s a smart business strategy because what person is completely satisfied with anything in life much less an area for which they are seeking professional counseling?
The natural response of dissatisfied people is to complain. Complaining is unattractive in others but barely noticed when it comes out of our own mouth.
3 Lies Complainers Believe
Complainers Idealize What They Don’t Have
Every time I go on vacation I think, “I’d rather live here than in Columbia.” That was especially true of Chicago, a relatively inexpensive place to take the family to eat good food and do fun stuff together. All that changed when my wife pointed out that the reason I liked Chicago so much is because we were on vacation. It’s not Chicago that’s so great. It’s that our family’s together, we don’t have all our normal responsibilities, and we are spending our vacation fund doing things we don’t normally do at home.
I had an idealized view of what living in Chicago would be like so I complained about my actual life in Columbia. Any time we idealize what we don’t have, we complain about what we do have. Our real life can never measure up to the idealized version of reality because it isn’t real.
Complainers Believe Circumstances Are Key To A Good Life
If you won the lottery, would you be happier? Are paralyzed people less happy? Would you be happier if you lived in California or North Dakota?
Researchers say that while circumstances can give a brief bounce in a person’s happiness they don’t lead to long term happiness. If you win the lottery, you’ll be happier for a short period of time but that increased happiness won’t last long.
It turns out that complaining has little to do with circumstances and a lot to do with our heart.
Complainers Have A False View Of Themselves
Complaining is rooted in the belief that I deserve better than I’ve gotten. Life has ripped me off. I deserve better than I’ve gotten: a better spouse, better kids, a better job, better health. The more we think we deserve the less satisfied and thankful we will be for what we have. And the more we will complain.
My sinful mind can convince me that anything I want I’m entitled to, and if I’m not getting something I want, then somebody in the universe must be messing up. Someone owes me.
Stephen Hawking, the renown physicist, developed a motor neuron disease at 21. Trapped in a rapidly decaying body, the New York Times asked how he keeps his spirits up. Hawking replied: “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was twenty-one. Everything since then has been a bonus.”
The antidote to complaining is grace. God is good to me, the world’s worst sinner.