When I glanced at my arcane holidays calendar notebook, I knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to address National Whiners’ Day without doing some whining, myself. To whine about whining is like whining about Black Friday.
Both “observances” have much to do about ingratitude. The day after Christmas is one of the busiest shopping days in America; just as one of our greediest days falls on the day after Thanksgiving. It seems to me that the contemporary default form of communication is complaining because we’ve allowed ourselves to indulge in the easy emotion of dissatisfaction. Yes, I admit that I’m whining, too.
Dissatisfaction, itself, can easily become the default, easy way of filtering our perceptions of the world around us. Politicians wheedle their ways into our favor by appealing to our dissatisfactions. This is nothing new. It’s been going on as long as humans have come together in societies.
Ironically, the politicians with the least need to grouse are the loudest, most obnoxious of the bunch. Hence, whining and dissatisfaction may sometimes not only be obnoxious, but very dangerous to the integrity of a society.
At it’s most extreme, whining incites mob behavior. One only needs to remember one of history’s most prolific whiners, Adolf Hitler. His deftness with whining was honed to an artform. The craft of whining by Hitler and his henchmen is a major topic that is studied in political science. A skillful whiner can short-circuit our rational mind and appeal to the base power of our reptilian brain.
Through the ages, wisdom teachers have understood the negative consequences that whining has on individuals and on society, at large. Judeo-Christianity’s Seven Deadly Sins includes greed or dissatisfaction. Islam also has many teachings about greed and dissatisfaction. The Lord Buddha taught that the cause of suffering is Dukkha or dissatisfaction.
The verbal manifestation of dissatisfaction is complaint. We enjoy the whining of stage comedians and the patronizing of politicians, to a point. After awhile, their rants begin to sound as unpleasant as the whine of a dentist’s drill. Most of us have lapsed into a whining session at least once in our lives. When do we become aware of our whining? When do we know we’ve gone too far with it? How do we know if we’ve crossed the line into the realm of chronic whining?
The most obvious sign of dissatisfaction is the lack of appreciation for things and favors. Isn’t it heartbreaking to witness the flood of shoppers on the day after Christmas to swap carefully chosen, loving gifts in exchange for “better” stuff? The same goes for the insane dash for merchandise on the day after Thanksgiving, or even before Thanksgiving is through. These cultural abberations should be viewed as warning signs that may indicate chronic dissatisfaction. This type of greed is justified by whining.
On a personal level, have you noticed that people who complain a lot are unpleasant to be around? Certainly, misery loves company, but once a common problem is solved, the commaraderie soon dissolves.
Some of the most difficult people to be around are those who attempt to win friends by getting people to feel sorry for them. Pity is a poor substitute for authentic friendship.
Have you also noticed that some of the saddest individuals are those who nurse resentment? Whiners love to discuss old hurts and slights. This practice is a round-about way of demonstrating their victimhood. They are reluctant to forgive.
It’s much more helpful to address painful issues as soon as possible, resolve them, then move on.
Have you observed that the most difficult whiners are those who say they are offended? This category of negativity is a regular feature of American political debate. There have been several major examples of offended victims on display in the media this year. You know who they are; I don’t need to whine about them.
First, become mindful of my own tendency to lapse into default complainer mode, then I can nip a whining session in the bud.
Next, I can stop ruminating over past hurts and rebuffs then resolve to not talk about old issues. The victim mentality is a sure-fire turn-off, I want to avoid this, always.
The remedies to treat chronic whining are many and pleasant. Cultivate an “attitude of gratitude”. Sure, that’s a cliche’ but it does work to increase my happiness. Certainly, other people love to know that I’m grateful for their compliments and the gifts they’ve gone out of their way to bring me.
Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving to both the receiver and the giver. It’s important to eliminate the word “but” when lavishing our thank you’s. The simple “thank you”, without any embellishment, is a wonderful thing.
If I find myself in the company of a whiner, I intend to end the discussion immediately. While getting on the “gravy train” of whining can feel emotionally gratifying at first, the hangover of later regret about gossipping isn’t worth it.
I can offer a solution to the complainer, but I don’t want to listen to more complaining about my proposal. I don’t want to step into that downward spiral.
I know there will be future legitimate reasons to be concerned. I know that I’ll file complaints. I will do my best to reason out good solutions to those problems. At the same time, I don’t want to go into denial about serious issues. I don’t want to become a drag by only whining about such things. Hopefully, I can offer positive, helpful advice and reflections about life’s inevitable issues.
With no ifs, ands, or buts, National Whiners Day is the perfect opportunity to pay attention to all of the whining that is going on around us. We can ask ourselves how we can decrease the whining and increase the gratitude. How can we stop darkening the lives of others and ourselves, and let in the light of compassion?
The Blue Jay of Happiness contemplates this quote by the jurist and writer, Lord Francis Jeffrey: “The tendency to whining and complaining may be taken as the surest sign-symptom of little souls and inferior intellects.”