Thursday, December 14, 2017

Not complaining, just observing

Have a great life!

“It’s hotter outside than in the studio” I declared to David, my Bikram yoga teacher as I checked in for the noon class. “But I am not complaining” I added without pause “Just observing” remembering days not too long past of trudging to yoga in -31 degree weather.

What’s the difference between a complaint and an observation? “It’s hot” stated as a fact, with a smile, in a monotone, level voice is a different proposition to “It’s hot” with the emphasis on “hot”, voice rising to magnify the “o” and emphasise the “t”, frustration evident in each syllable, hands fanning heat, body drooping, face draining – the response evoking the Sahara desert on it’s hottest day. Now that’s a complaint!

To complain means to express dissatisfaction with something. It comes from a Latin root “complanere” – to lament. Meanwhile, to observe is to notice or see it and comes from the Latin “observare” which means to watch over, note, heed, look at. They both denote looking at something but evoke totally different emotions. And they have different consequences. What satisfaction or benefit do we get from complaining? It only keeps us mired in negativity and inaction. So why do we bother if it’s so futile? Perhaps it gives us a feeling that we are doing something, that perhaps if we voice the complaint over and over somehow things will change? That may happen if the person to whom we are complaining has the authority and the will to do something, for example, in customer service. If not, then our complaints are futile. The more we observe and the less we complain the easier our lives will be, particularly when the object of our complaint is something that we can do nothing to change – like the weather. Why complain about the weather? Nothing we do will change it, yet people (especially here in Canada) do so constantly.

The real power of dealing with a situation comes when we observe with detached emotions. Then we are in a position to think clearly, identify choices and take action. Which for me is a much better place than simply complaining. Yes, it’s hot today. That’s just a fact. Complain less and observe more. And perhaps the heat, and many other things won’t bother you so much.


6 Responses to “Not complaining, just observing”
  1. Eve says:

    Life is too full of things to explore and discover to dwell on the weather. Everything and everybody has a role to play. I once read that worry is like a rocking chair in that it feels good while you’re rocking in it but it takes you nowhere. I feel the same about complaining…it’s negative energy. However if it’s something about which you can alter then do so. Otherwise acknowledge it, if you wish to do so, but keep it moving!

  2. Marguerite Orane says:

    Thanks Eve – love the rocking chair analogy! I agree with you – do something or keep moving.



  3. Very much agree with you on this:
    – observe with detached emotions. Then we are in a position to think clearly, identify choices and take action.

    Take action!

    A fav quote: You can drift, dream, drown, or decide and take action!

    thanks again.


  4. Marguerite Orane says:

    Thanks Michael. LOVE that quote – “Drift, dream, drown or decide – and take action”

    Bless you


  5. Wendy Chan says:

    The blog takes a Buddist lean this month…?… Loved the clarity of the example between a complaint and an observation.and isn’t the heat something EVERYONE can relate to. Thank you!

  6. Marguerite Orane says:

    Thanks Wendy! Yes, weather is the universal leveller!!!