Last week I spent the entire week in Gulf Shores, AL with family. It was a much needed get away with time connecting with nature and taking in the vastness and beauty of the ocean. I noticed however, even in the midst of paradise with the white sand beaches, amazing food and breathtaking scenes from the sea hawks and seagulls fishing high above the waves, my ego was still hell bent on sourcing problems. But why…on a seemingly perfect vacation would I need to find little things to complain about? Why would I let energetic annoyances get to me when my patience muscle should be flexed? What is it about drama that is soooo alluring to us?
Well the first level of understanding came when I examined the energetic dynamic of our group. Not to call anyone out as we were all equally guilty but there was definitely a propensity towards the negative and finding problems. And of course I fell in right along with everyone else to get my share of the energetic feeding! My ego was finding a way to turn the ‘attention’ back on me when I felt it being diverted to whoever had the biggest complaint or issue at the time. Whether it was a comment about how long the drive was or about the place we were staying or the fact that it was raining or the sun was too hot (seriously?!) or the creepy sounds the wind made when the storms blew through or the lack of ‘bodies’ on the beach directly in front of our beach house for us to people watch…and on and on and on. It was one perceived problem after another…and when all of those sourced problems, which weren’t actual real problems were taken away, it was absolute BLISS!
I found the situation to be extremely ironic and very reminiscent of how we live our lives each and every day. If we are honest with ourselves, it’s doubtful that most days we have legitimate first world problems. Sure we might be caught up in traffic or late for a meeting, or wearing socks that don’t match or wishing we could remember where we placed that file…but true problems like where will my shelter come from tonight or how will I get food to eat or medicine or vaccinations for my sick infant aren’t typically affecting our reality. Yet we like to complain and tell ourselves we feel just the same as someone experiencing true problems.
I was finally able to regroup with the assistance of my partner, Joel (also the keeper of everyone’s happiness) when he finally said…”Seriously! Enough! How can it get any more perfect than this? I can’t think of one thing to complain about.” I thought, ‘Have you met this group? We’ll give you 20!’ But of course he was right. I needed to reset my happiness set point to HIGH and practice gratitude for a reboot.
Gratitude and frustration cannot occupy the same space at the same time. When feeling the energy of giving thanks for everything positive that is going on in your life, it really is impossible to find things to complain about. If you practice this exercise a lot, in time it gets easier to reframe things even when you are in the midst of a trigger. Of course our ego’s have strength and power (we’ve been nurturing them for a very long time!) so it will battle you to source problems even when you resolve yourself not to.
Finally, perfectionism and unrealistic expectations also play a part in our finding problems but I honestly think those all relate to our mind’s underlying need to constantly have something to worry about. The fact that we do this is very exhausting…and annoying to those around us. Sourcing problems is a very bad habit and one that can rob sunshine from even the cheeriest of us, leaving us in the darkness of negativity. When this happens, I hope you are blessed enough to have a ‘happiness keeper’ in the mix to encourage you to step out of your pattern and relish the amazingness in front of you…