Shut. It. Down. How to Avoid Negative Thoughts & Grumblings

Yesterday I was driving over the South Street bridge and I saw a mother pushing her son in a stroller. I noticed them because he was bald and had an oxygen tube going into his nose. They’re going to CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) because he has cancer was my initial thought. The next thing that I noticed was how jovial they both appeared. They were laughing and talking and enjoying each other. Here was a child about 4 or 5 years old with significant health problems and he and his mother seemed to be having a great morning.

In that moment I felt a mixture of shame and gratitude. How could I be so worried and consumed with my thoughts and anxieties when this family not only had real troubles but were also able to enjoy themselves? There’s nothing like tragedy to highlight our joys and blessings. As I continued through traffic and searching for parking and the rest of my day I had the image of the little boy and his mother smiling and laughing on their way to CHOP.

This is not to dismiss our own problems and struggles but to keep them in their rightful place. Some of our worries deserve a lot of attention while others deserve very little of our attention. It is these little worries, gripes, and grumblings that negatively impact our outlook and our interactions with others. These grumblings and murmurs of dissatisfaction are often unnecessary complaints. In fact these grumblings directly contradict the goodness in your life. The grumblings keep you focused on the unimportant aspects of your day like being stuck in traffic or not finding a parking space. The grumblings distract you from the beauty of the day or the joy of the moment.

So how do you limit your grumblings in order to better appreciate what is good in your life?

In the words of Olivia Pope: Shut. It. Down. Tell yourself “No, I will not put my energy or thoughts into something unimportant.” Then, every time you find yourself grumbling or complaining about something unimportant counter it with a thought that brings a smile to your face.

What do you do to contain your grumblings? Share your ideas so we can learn from each other!

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