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On Complaining


I was having coffee with a friend a couple of weeks ago when our conversation turned to the topic of complaining. He had observed that he had noticed an uptick in the amount of complaining he was subjected to, and added that lately he, too, had been a little more prone to complaining.

Everyone is prone to complain from time to time, but no one wants to do it chronically, lest they be labeled as a “complainer.” So as we refilled our cups, we reflected on why we who were blessed with both health and health insurance would complain at all.

Here is what I offered, in part, as a rationale for the problem. I think we complain because we compare. I think most complaints are rooted in comparing our present station in life with that of another. For instance, take a middle class family living in the suburbs. A child from that family, noting all of the affluence in the community, may take the position that his or her family is poor. Their friends have bigger homes, nicer clothes, and newer cars. The complaint rises about their home, their clothes, and their car. Now take the same child and place them in a different context, like an urban one. Suddenly, the child who felt “poor” now feels “blessed.”

I’m not trying to make a big statement here about society or culture, but I do think this is an observation worth thinking about. When we compare ourselves to others, we are going to be more prone to complain. So the next time you hear yourself voice a complaint, ask yourself, “Is this a valid complaint? Or have I been comparing myself to others?”

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