When we were at the stampede last week, waiting in line for the Superdogs show to start, there were three adults behind us who complained virtually the whole time. "This is ridiculous," they said, "Why won't they let us go in and sit down?" They sighed heavily, and when one complained, the next one agreed, and then the third would chime in with a new version of the same complaint.
We were in a great mood when we got in that line, with the kids crazy excited to see the Superdogs do their tricks, and after ten minutes in that line we all started to feel the weight of the endless bitching and moaning from these people. It was all I could do not to turn to them and say, "No one is forcing you to watch this free show. If you don't want to stand in line with the hundreds of people who are all waiting, then please leave."
Actually, I didn't want to be that polite. I wanted to put my fist in their faces, or do a lot of inappropriate yelling or cursing, but I knew that saying anything at all would pour more fuel on their particular fire. It wasn't up to me to correct their behaviour. What I actually hated the most was recognizing myself in their complaining. I used to be a terrible whiner, and feel shafted at the smallest thing, and sigh my way through a lot of unpleasant experiences.
No one likes waiting in the sun for twenty-five minutes to watch a bunch of dogs run through hoops. It's not fun for anyone, but complaining certainly doesn't make it any better. The Calgary Stampede didn't owe any of us anything. We stood in line so we could get good seats, because our kids wanted to see this show, and we had the choice of whether to complain or to suck it up and wait it out.
Complaining uses up a lot of energy, and it tends to make everything seem terrible and unfair and awful. I know that we didn't get into the cool auditorium a second faster by complaining. Our attitude didn't affect the outcome one iota, but it greatly impacted our attitude. I felt sorry for the people behind me because they were so overtly unhappy. I kept up a string of chatter with the kids about what the show was going to be like, and the rides they were going to go on after, and how good the mini donuts were going to taste. I tried hard to get away from the negativity, but it wasn't an easy task, as it becomes a vortex that can easily drag you down.
I'm glad that I can see the difference now between negativity and positivity. One has the power to be a buzz kill and the other makes you feel good. It's the same energy, used in entirely different ways. I spent too many years looking for something to complain about, and you don't ever have to look far, but now I want to see what is good about any given situation and focus on that. There are two sides to every coin, and I want the one that brings me peace and joy instead of criticism and negativity.