Someday, I’ll have a little log cabin in the woods at the edge of the lake. There will be mountains off in the distance and gorgeous sunrises will paint the sky.
I should really take a vacation in the Caribbean. Relaxing oceanside is just what I need. I deserve the break from all the hard work I do.
My workplace is such a drag. I should look for a place where work is fulfilling and all my co-workers get along.
I have become rather skilled at complaining lately. Mostly to myself, but I am sure my friends have noticed. To justify my malcontent, I’ve created a litney of excuses, such as:
I’m just so tired from work,
the weather has just been awful lately,
and I just don’t have time to do the things I enjoy anymore…
However, my excuses don’t get at the root of the issue. The real problem is that I have learned to focus on the often small inconveniences and troubles of everyday experiences while becoming blind to the much more abundant and meaningful good. Our current culture thrives on this attitude, focusing on success and growth as the markers of happiness. The emphasis to always seek bigger and better breeds malcontent and leaves no room for gratitude.
In order to cope with my selective perception and grumbling, I often turn to fantasizing about ideal situations, e.g., the log cabin dream house, where everything is awesome (as in the Lego® movie). But this is spiritual pornography:
“…creating a mental fantasy of a perfect place of people or people and not recognizing the good things around me. This spiritual porn is my nemesis. It’s poison.
-Kevin Rains in Living into Community1
Fantasizing about a trouble-free future negates appreciation of life in the present, minimizing both personal actions and interactions with others right now. This is not the way life should be. But what to do about it? Instead of cultivating a culture of complaints, nurture gratitude. Be thankful for not only for the career advancing, relationship building ‘big’ events in life, but also for the fleeting and fragile moments of grace. Pause and take note when a friend shares their life with you over tea, when you notice an unfolding bud, and when the sun scatters light just so in the sunrise before a busy work day. Recognize the unexpected good in the mundane.
Counter-cultural attitude transformation sounds like a big deal, but I’m hoping to start with the small stuff.
1. Pohl, Christine D. 2012. Living into Community: Cultivating Practices that Sustain Us. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 215.