Comparing, complaining, and criticizing. In his book, Think Like A Monk, Jay Shetty describes them as the "three cancers of the mind". We have ALL found ourselves in a time or place of our lives where we can't zoom out, see the big picture and we can feel stuck in a negative perspective which may lead to a little venting. I know I have been there! Understandable and very human! What we want to watch for is when this moment becomes a day and then colors our week which forms our month and now, we are stuck in a loop that has us boxed out of a positive mindset. They begin as a quick thought, then maybe we speak out loud about our opinion, to the person next to us, and then we can even begin to take actions that are influenced by this perspective. What we are essentially doing is labeling and categorizing things as good or bad, right or wrong. I love the analogy I once heard about viewing life more as a buffet. If we can approach people, places and things as options on the buffet, this perspective can possibly help us view them from a more neutral space. The options that don't interest us can just be passed by without complaining about them, comparing them to the choices we decided to put on our plates and then also realize there is no need to criticize the unappealing options and demand they be removed from the buffet.
“Every day we are assaulted by negativity,” Shetty writes. “No wonder we can’t help but dish it out as well as receive it.” It is not easy work maintaining a positive mindset and viewing the world from an optimistic lens, in the world we live in today, but once we bring awareness to something it allows us the opportunity to choose different.
What I love about writing these blogs is that it brings so much attention and intention to every topic I write about and once you shine a light on something it's almost impossible to not see it! I have noticed since reading his book, that it is so easy for big and small comparisons, complaints and criticism to just pop in unannounced or welcomed. It becomes somewhat of a game to spot them! changing our mindset and working on quieting the "three cancers of the mind,” can be a great way to make room for a more positive perspective and enjoy a joy-based life. This is a shift that includes our thoughts, words & actions, and requires ongoing practice.
"Don't compare your life to others. There is no comparison between the sun and the moon." ~ Buddha
When we compare ourselves to others, it is often because there is something we see that touches on a deep seeded insecurity or something that we wish were different within or about ourselves and our own lives, that we may or may not be aware of. Why not spin this around? Instead of unconsciously falling down the path to a negative headspace, what if we simply took a moment to imagine all the things that person must have gone through to get where they are and send them love and kindness for their journey?
"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." ~ William Arthur Ward
Complaining ~ The definition of complaining is the expression of dissatisfaction or annoyance about something. By its definition, there is nothing wrong with a moment of complaining. Feeling dissatisfied or annoyed is often the first step of growth or change! It can be the motivation that inspires an action for the cause. This differs from a chronic complainer. Someone who consistently vocalizes their disappointment with the various aspects of their life. This type of person is often unhappy and feels as if nothing is ever to their standards or good enough for them. Rather than look at the positive, a chronic complainer focuses on the negative. What if the next time you found yourself complaining about something, allow yourself the freedom to vent and express your dissatisfaction, but then come up with one action step you can take to help the problem at hand. No matter how big or small the action, being on the side of the solution rather than giving more energy and attention the problem, will have profound impact on your energy and how you feel about the topic. Even if all you can realistically do is send love and peace to those affected.
“It is much more valuable to look for the strength in others. You can gain nothing by criticizing their imperfections.” ~ Daisaku Ikeda
Criticism is the construction of a judgement about the negative or positive qualities of someone or something. Expressing our opinions or dislike of a particular person situation or thing is often a part of our everyday lives. It is how we sort and sift through all the people, places and things that are put in front of us on a regular basis, and help us choose who, how and what we will fill our lives with! Where this can become detrimental to our happiness is when we attach a negatively formed opinion or projection. I wonder if the next time a criticism pops up, we could take the opportunity to notice where the thought was coming from. Is it coming from a place of neutral sorting, or from a place of projecting a fear-based judgement on a situation we may not have all of the information on. What if we took a second to look at that very same situation we were having a hard time accepting and tried to find just one thing we admired or at least find compassion.
We may not have the ability to control the thoughts, words, and actions of others but we do have control of how we think, what we say and who we then choose to show up as in the world and for those around us. What if the next time one of these cancers infected our mind, we used it as an opportunity to liberate ourselves and got to know ourselves better rather than keep the focus on what was taking place outside of us? I find when one of these pops up into my head, it helps to ask myself, what am I afraid of? What do I need to release? What is one action step I can take today to help me feel like I am turning around the negative self-believe or experience that is attached to this formed opinion.
None of us are perfect and no one lives a perfectly positive life, what fun would that be? For me, I find value in using every day as an opportunity to practice being more in alignment with my highest, most authentic self, which helps me see those challenging moments as an opportunity to peel back another layer of vulnerability and get brutally honest with myself.
Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind. ~ Roy T. Bennett
All the love,