The Complaint Syndrome

I have a problem with complaining. I always seem to be “looking sideways,” checking out what other people have and wondering why I can’t have it, too. This distracts me from moving ahead with my own unique set of skills. Any ideas for how to cure me?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The Israelites travel into the desert. For three days they find no water and complain against Moses. God provides it. They journey on, find no food, and again complain to Moses. God again provides it. The Israelites travel on, and again they have no water. This time they attack Moses so viscously that he's afraid they're going to kill him! (Exodus 15:22)

Like the Israelites in the desert, each of us is surrounded with the evidence of God's love and care. We're alive. We can think, speak, move, breath, see, hear. But we're still filled with bitterness for things we don't have.

Someone once complained to me that they felt depressed.

"If you had all your same problems," I asked, "but additionally you were blind, would it cheer you up to recover your sight?"

"Of course."

"Guess what," I said, "you've got sight."

"Yeah, but I've always had sight, and so does everyone else."

That's the secret of misery. Take everything you have for granted, and carefully focus on what you don't have, and you'll always be miserable.

Anyone with children knows the untutored state of man is dissatisfaction.

You take your kids to Disneyland. They go on 97 rides and spend the day eating ice cream. You give them pizza for dinner and read them seventeen stories before bed. Then they ask for a cookie, and when you say no, they burst into tears.

The secret of happiness: focus on what you do have, and take pleasure in it.

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