If I were a child, I would be distracting myself with a shiny object or handing over a bottle and telling myself it was time for a nap and a diaper change.
Recent times have been tough and while I haven’t lost my lost my mojo, I definitely lost, or at least misplaced, my normal, fairly resilient, Pollyanna-ish self. Instead, I’ve done more than my share of whining and venting.
When my kids used to whine, I would draw on humour and mimic them or just pretend I didn’t understand what they were saying until they used a normal voice. While those strategies may have worked on kids, I’m not sure about their applicability to adults. As a result, I got thinking about the best way to deal with negativity and complaints from a whiny adult.
Here’s the resulting five pieces of advice I gave myself.
Self, I said, Stay calm, pause, and meditate. Research clearly demonstrates that meditation reduces stress, boosts positive energy, and promotes health, vitality, and a longer life. And, while I know that’s true, the reality is that I’m not all that good at sitting still long enough to meditate. Instead, I do a form of meditating that works best for me. I just take a lot of mini-breaks where I plant my feet flat on the floor, close my eyes, and take deep breaths until I get bored.
My second piece of advice to the whiner within me was, practice gratitude. My mother, not to mention scientific research, says that when we count our blessings each day, we get a measurable increase in our happiness that is invigorating and uplifting. Part of counting our blessings is that it keeps things in perspective. It’s especially hard to whine about your own life after you listen to the recent COVID-19 updates and realize so many others are ill or dying.
Drawing on my learnings from the Dale Carnegie course I took many years ago, I also suggested to my whiny self that I get busy providing positive feedback to others rather than whining about what they were doing wrong. Focusing on someone else is not only good for you, the compliments are good for the recipient.
After that, I gave myself a little talking-to and suggested I start focusing on success by doing more to paint a positive and inspiring picture for the future rather than wallowing. I’m spending more time focused on continuing the meaningful work we’re doing at the Campus for Communities of the Future by helping to grow community leadership. Remaining optimistic in a post COVID-19 world is going to be essential. That means it will be important to not only view organizations and communities as glasses of water half full, but also to figure out how to fill the darned glass! When that doesn’t work, I’ll focus on vacation plans and images of a sunny beach that will hopefully happen in the not-too-distant future.
Lastly, I suggested to myself that I just give up the whining. Rather than complaining about what I have no power to change, I’ll work at letting it go and focus on what I am able to change. Doing that also makes me better able to remember and embrace the idea that things always do get better.
That’s it, that’s all the advice I’ve got. But, if the above advice doesn’t work, there’s always chocolate!