What Choice Do You Have?

So often, we get stuck in these cycles of complaining. Complaining makes us feel good.

Take an example. After a long hard day of being ignored by your boss, you come home and complain to your spouse. You explain what it was like, your projections about how unfair it was, you maybe even call her a “bitch.” And for a fleeting moment, you feel like you have been validated. Your spouse says, “Yes, honey. You’re right. That was unfair.”

Complaining makes us feel like we have purpose, like we are better than the circumstances and people in our lives. We are signaling our disapproval of what’s going on in our lives or in the bigger world around us. As if somehow, the Universe will respond positively to our self-righteousness and flip the switch.

Of course there are real things to dislike about this world. There are endless things, in fact. Genocide. Famine. Poverty. Racism. Sex Slavery. Economic Immobility. School Shootings. [I’ll stop the list there as not to depress you today.]

But this doesn’t change the fact that merely complaining - words not actions - is totally useless. It’s an excuse not to saddle up and get to work.

When presented with something that frustrates you, I urge you to feel it. I don’t want you to deny the intoxication of your own frustration. Indulge a little.

But realize that your response should be based on what you can control. You cannot control what the President does tomorrow or how the news cycle reports on it. You cannot control whether your boss’s husband files for divorce and she comes into work angry. You cannot control whether your terms are denied by a foreign government.

All you can control is you.

You can control what you think and how you respond.

So when something goes wrong, when something is out of whack, when something totally pisses you off, breathe, pause, and ask:

What choice do I have?

Then make the right one, the one that speaks to your heart.

Kate Ward