I wonder if complaining and being offended has become our resting attitude? What I mean by that is, are we now so conditioned to immediately reject and complain, that we’re in effect, creating our own unhappiness?
We increasingly hear people saying “everyone has to be offended by something these days” and what they mean is that more-and-more, people too willingly throw themselves into the state of perpetual annoyance and indignation. For many people, complaining over minor things has become the norm and as people fall into a state-of-mind centered on being offended, they eventually start to act as if they’re being victimized.
“…When they’re offended, more people than you might imagine “act out.” Whether straightforwardly or passive-aggressively, they’re motivated to retaliate against their (supposed) assailant. Yet most people whose words or actions are experienced as offensive, lack antagonistic intent…” – Leon F Seltzer PhD, Psychology Today.
In essence, what this quote from Psychology Today is saying, is that people who perceive themselves to have been offended, often act out, even though the person(s) they perceive as offending them, had no intention of doing so and are probably unaware they did so. This perception of being wronged/offended creates a sense of unhappiness and agitation centered around a constant state of complaint.
A friend sent me this quote the other day and it really hit home, especially for today’s complicated times:
A pastor asked an older farmer, decked out in bib overalls, to say grace for the morning breakfast.
“Lord, I hate buttermilk,” the farmer began. The visiting pastor opened one eye to glance at the farmer and wonder where this was going.
The farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.” Now the pastor was growing concerned.
Without missing a beat, the farmer continued, “And Lord, you know I don’t much care for raw white flour.” The pastor once again opened an eye to glance around the room and saw that he wasn’t the only one to feel uncomfortable.
Then the farmer added, “But Lord, when you mix them all together and bake them, I do love warm fresh biscuits. So Lord, when things come up that we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we don’t understand what you’re saying to us, help us to just relax and wait until you are done mixing. It will probably be even better than biscuits. Amen.”
Within that prayer there is great wisdom for all when it comes to complicated situations like we are experiencing in the world today.
The farmer isn’t so much complaining as he’s saying out loud the things he doesn’t care for, but he’s acknowledging that those same things, when mixed together and tended to, turn out the most delicious and enjoyable biscuits.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” This passage from Matthew 11:15 is teaching us to use the ears we were born with to listen…to quiet our individual talk and inner chatter, and to open our ears and let truth flow into us. When we’re too preoccupied with complaining and feeling offended, we’re not truly listening –we’re venting and protesting and its drowning out our own happiness. When we’re in a state of perpetual agitation, we’re not moving forward, but rather, are miring ourselves into negativity. The farmer gave the Pastor good reason to be concerned, as he wondered if the entire prayer was going to be a rambling complaint about what he didn’t like and what wasn’t good — instead, the farmer saw the big picture because he was listening. The farmer nonchalantly said what he didn’t care for, but realized that the ultimate end result, was the real prize.
We can wake up each morning and find ways to be offended and annoyed by every little thing, or we can see the big picture and the beauty of life and instead, focus on the good and the opportunities before us. Its up to us to create our own happiness…just as its our choice to create our own unhappiness. We should be mindful to always chose wisely.
“Happiness is a deep sense of flourishing, not a mere pleasurable feeling or fleeting emotion but an optimal state of being.” – Matthieu Ricard