The other day I was at the coffee shop drive-thru window picking up my regular, delicious, iced Americano and the young lady asked how I was doing.

“I’m great,” I replied and asked her the same question. Her response: “I can’t complain.”

That got me thinking. Can’t we all complain?

There must be something in your life you can complain about. This is especially true of things over which we have no control. Weather. Traffic. Other people. The list could be pretty long.

Here’s the thing, though. Most of us (I hope) don’t choose to always complain about these things. We’ve learned that complaining about them makes no difference, and is wasted energy. But not everyone feels the same way…

You Know That Guy
We all have a friend or family member that complains about everything. Someone who sucks the positive energy out of a room by recounting the travails of their daily life. Nothing ever goes right for them. Everyone else is the root of their problems. To put it bluntly, these people can be a drag to be around.

Here’s how they can help us, though. Let’s talk about how they found themselves in their situation? Do they have bad luck? Were they cursed? Or is there something more at work?

The truth is most of this misery is invented –or at least amplified—by their own outlook. To explain, let’s talk some simple neuroscience. (SIMPLE neuroscience? Surprised you there, didn’t I).

The Point of Origin
There is a small area near the base of your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) whose job it is to search for and recognize the things you want. Have you ever noticed that after you buy a car you suddenly see the same car everywhere? The truth is that the world hasn’t changed, you have. Your RAS is focused on something that matters to you and you start to see more of the same in the world. For a short explanation of the RAS watch THIS VIDEO.

Makes sense, doesn’t it. And even before we were talking neuroscience there were some very smart individuals who intuitively knew about the RAS.

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
–Abraham Lincoln

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
–Shakespeare

Like Breeds Like
The truth is everyone has SOMETHING in their life that is complaint-worthy. But, if we focus constantly on that negative, how likely is it that we will “experience” more of the same? Remember our sourpuss friend I mentioned earlier? Unless something changes, this guy will end up repeating the same cycle through the course of his life. He may as well change his name to Buzz Killington because that is what he will be to everyone in his life. Not much fun, right?

So while I also have things I could complain about, I try to choose to not spend too much time on them. Maybe if more of us did this we could rewire our brains and be happier. And by focusing on more of the joys of our lives, we will have more joyful lives.

How about you? Want to join me?

–Coach Brad

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