Sometimes it feels that we are wired to complain. Or rather, it feels that people need to inevitably complain about something in the framework of a normal small talk. Like if it was shameful if somebody was happy with or grateful for what they have. Are we afraid that people will be envious of our happiness? Or do we just need sympathy?
I have recently cracked the proximal end of my radius (in everyday lingo it is the inner bone at my elbow on my lower arm) and after wearing a cast for a week, I was ordered to attend physiotherapy to help my hand reach its normal functionality. On the one hand, in every moment of the healing process, I was consciously focusing on gratitude towards my hand. Gratitude for having two functional hands, being grateful for being able to do more and more with my broken hand, showing gratitude for the fading pain and etcetera.
Mind you, the cracked bone is just a background for better understanding the environment nesting this social exchange I have recently encountered. I have been paired up with a lady, who has similarly damaged her elbow, and we have been doing physio at the local health center for over a month. We meet the therapist on a weekly basis for special exercises. And as I am not the chit chattery type, I just let my peer and the therapist engage in a small talk while we are moving our hands in weird positions.
This morning we were after a long-weekend as Good Friday and Easter Monday just doubled the length of the weekend. I took it quite casually, especially because I am not freaking out about religious holidays in general, and additionally, as the deadline for our paper is fix, I worked from home during the holy days.
Anyway, my broken radius peer (let’s call her Lisa) and the therapist (let’s call her Iza) could not stop complaining about a variety of things.
Just to start with, Lisa, whose job involves computer work, was devastated that she had to go back to work after staying home with her broken hand for four weeks. On my side, I did not stop working and was the happiest man on Earth when I lost the cast and could type with two hands once again. Iza cleverly commented something neutral on Lisa’s complaint and ignored her “huge pain”. I do not know about other cultures, but here in Hungary, we just love to complain about working.
As we started exercising our hands, respectively, small talk kicked in with the most boring yet the most commonly used ice-breaker: the weather. And guess what, so unexpected: the weather has changed. Yes, the weather was different today as compared to the preceding day. And what is worse, being early spring, it has got somewhat colder and a bit rainy. Lisa and Iza could not stop competing against each other how “bad” the weather has got. Once I have felt weather negativity was enough I uttered:
“I am happy for the rain, as change is always good. At the same time, some people in other countries would kill for some drops of rain to ease the drought they face in the majority of the year.”
This apparently got them silent and thinking for some short minutes, before complaining about overeating during the four-day-long holiday kicked in. Lisa and Iza could not stop complaining how they cannot even think about ham and eggs anymore, as Easter favors these two types of food in some places of the world. At this point, I could not join the conversation as I was eerily bothered. While there is one single child starving in any part of the world (and unfortunately there are lots of children not having anything to eat), complaining about the abundance of food and overeating is outrageously ignorant to me. Anyway, the therapy reached its climax, I mean the end, and we were cut loose.
On my way home, I inevitably started thinking about this tiny negativity seminar I had just unintentionally attended. I came to the conclusion that they cannot be blamed, as they are just mimicking the behavior of their parents and the society, in order to fit in.
Yet, their negativity undermines their happiness, and that is unfortunate. As I was fidgeting with my keys to open the door I figured the reason why I have not joined such patterns lately is the Buddhist notion of impermanence and my changed attitude about relating to weather. If you are interested in these two topics more in detail, please stay tuned, as I promise to engage in them soon.
Until then, take care my friends.