Stop whining,start living

It was one of those fine spring days, when you have little to do. When you walk with a spring in your step and watch the world with fresh eyes. Winter has just left us, leaving behind a lingering coolness. Not a chill, just a pleasant cool feeling.

Anyway, so here we were a bunch of us when we came upon a tall sturdy mountain in the middle of the city. “Strange! I hadn’t seen this before,” I said loudly. “No, you haven’t, silly,” someone on top said. “Delhi has such foul weather you couldn’t see beyond the car’s headlights.” “Well, how is it up there,” I asked. “Chilly, smelly... awful actually.”

The man next to him said, “It’s this winter. It just gets into the bones.” “Well,” said his neighbour, “So does the summer. It is hateful and hot, so hot it gets into your eyes and nose and trickles down your back.” Someone else from across said, “It’s not only the weather that is foul, so are the inhabitants of this town. So empty, hollow, so crass... You know what I mean.” Then another one joined in, complaining not only about the weather and the people, but also about the economy and the country.

That’s when the penny dropped. Ah! this is the whiners expedition, on top of the whiners peak. Like the Himalayan expedition...

The friend I was with said, “Yesterday my aunt died. She would have given anything to be on this earth and enjoy five minutes of this weather! Be it winter or summer. There are people who are locked up in prison, who would give anything to be out and free and here are all these grumblers who don’t have a word of appreciation for life.” She said, “When you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, then change the way you think about it. Change the way you look at it. Cut the complaining! It’s contagious.”

Take the example of the cleaning boy at my place. He is only happy when he whines. Crying and complaining makes him happy. Complaining about the work, about the floor, about the water, about the heat, about me, about the food, about the mobile he wants, about the money he doesn’t have, about the next door neighbours servant, about the ungrateful dog, about the country... Only when the cook and the maid join in in this whinge binge, he smiles with satisfaction. The danger is, complainers find company easily (like drunks). So beware, it’s a vice to watch out for!

Try this: every time you want to complain, stop yourself, think of one thing to be grateful for and say thank you. Give gratitude for the smallest thing, and force yourself to hold back the grudge and give out the gratitude. Complaining comes from a vigorous dissatisfaction with yourself and regret for a misspent life.

As Khalil Gibran says in The Prophet, “It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit...” Let that spirit be full of joy of life.

(The writer is a theatre director and novelist)

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