I never really appreciated anything until I lost everything.
I never really appreciated anything until I left everything behind to look for something that I couldn’t describe.
I was never satisfied with anything and I made sure to voice it out as if the world owes me anything.
I felt entitled and so full of myself until I couldn’t stomach my own company anymore.
I wanted to stop complaining. Sure! But how?
This was the solution I found. If others have swear jar where they pay every time they will swear, I had a complain jar where I challenged myself to pay every time I’d complain without finding solution and taking action first. And because I didn’t have enough money for it, I pushed harder to train myself to not complain.
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Repeatedly ranting about something that I am not satisfied in my life only meant that I am not in control of my own thoughts and my own life.
I started identifying the ones I have control over and the ones that I don’t (like the weather) and then asked myself what can I do to change the way how things are.
My greatest complaint is not having so much money. I am calling myself a starving artist. It could have been different if I am not sending financial support back home but it’s one of the things I have accepted being a Filipino. For me, it is non-negotiable.
To solve this, I reckon I need to find a job that will make more steady money but because I wanted to live my life my way and I want to become my own boss, it is just another non-negotiable.
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After indicating which things I am not happy about and which things I can control, I started listing what improvements I can make to make me feel content so I will not resort to complaining anymore.
Not happy with my job, I left it.
I have learned to negotiate and express myself better. I would rather lose something than hold all the grudges inside me and then complain about it nonstop.
Negativity is airborne. It is contagious. If I don’t want to always hang out with a person who does nothing but complain about every single thing, I also don’t want to be that person who loudly claims that I don’t have control over my life because it is not true.
This is my only life and to say that I don’t have the power to choose what makes me feel good, would be my greatest failure.
Opened my eyes and looked around me
The floating village in Cambodia that I have visited only to be brokenhearted. Residents build houses there because they could not afford a piece of land to build a house on.
The forever tropical weather in our village that I have taken for granted and saw as sign of poverty.
The girl on the wheelchair exerting every effort she could to push herself inside the bus. Without her knowledge, she made me stop counting every cellulite that has camped in my thighs. Without her knowledge, she made me thank my feet, legs and limbs for being able to make me walk and do sport without any problem.
Without her knowledge, she made me change the way I treat my body and stop myself from always torturing my body for its inability to shrink to a size that I wanted it to no matter which diet I try.
The homeless woman begging for alms on the street who has empty alcohol bottles beside her.
This is a clear mental health issue. I used to feel bad about the homeless people especially during winter time but when I learned that Germany supports them and it is their choice to stray and stay homeless, I became more into taking care of my mental heath too.
That could be me if I will not win the battle against my depression and resort to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain but will make me lose sight of the all the good things that are still bound to happen.
Most Germans are not happy to have them here and I have seen the reason why but it is quite not fair to stereotype everyone. It is also like me, a poor Filipino girl who is stereotyped to be out here gold-digging my way out of poverty.
There might be extreme cases but it is not fair to generalize besides, it is predicted that in 2050, there wouldn’t be enough Germans anymore due to their unwillingness to reproduce.
When that time comes, who will pay tax? So taking these refugees is actually going to help maintain the country’s economic balance and stability.
These days, before I say something really negative about anything, I make sure that I will reflect on it first so I will not just highlight the bad side but also the good side.
Daily Gratitude Challenge
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I started journaling at a very young age and I got so into it when I started looking for more meaning in my life.
During my meltdown, I wasn’t even aware that it was depth that I was looking for so my journal entries were just mostly angry rants and nonsense complaints. I couldn’t read them.
Was that how I see my life? Was that how I see life in general? Was that how ungrateful I became?
That same morning, for a change, I wrote few things that I look forward to.
The next day, I wrote about a time that I was truly happy.
The third day, I wrote about the cute guy sitting across me in my German class. I forced myself to open my eyes and look around me.
The forth day, I wrote about how I tried to steal photos of him while we were doing some exercises and when I checked the photo, he was looking at the camera. He knew and I felt so ashamed and thrilled at the same time.
I started looking forward to these little things I have been experiencing everyday until I couldn’t stop writing about them anymore.
Until I got used to looking for little beautiful things and simple moments of joy in the daily struggle of my new life. The life that I chose. The same choice that lead me to be happy and content in the simple and slow life that I am living right now.
The only time I count is when I count my blessings.
My choice of Words
I was in sophomore year in middle school when our Biology teacher made us have a separate notebook where we would write new words that we would encounter and write their meaning.
She said it wasn’t so original because Reader’s Digest has that on its last page but the goal was to improve our Biology vocabulary which made sense because it is the study of life and living organisms.
I just wasn’t able to say it out loud then but it’s one of the things that I looked forward to. I just couldn’t admit that I am a nerd and loved learning new words because duh, it isn’t cool.
But this love for all things nerdy shaped me to be the writer that I am now despite English not being my native language and I was already 27 when I left my country.
When depression hit me hard and I started wanting to change the way I felt, I made it a point to change all the negative words that I know that would possibly made me sound and feel so negative. I trained myself to look for better ways to say things.
It made me understand the power of words to rewire the brain. It is not just a simple reading addiction anymore.
Reading has been bringing me to different places to meet people from different cultures even when the only thing that I can afford was to sit by the nearby river or in our balcony while I am busy redesigning my life.
It is making me stumble upon all the words that I need to mold my mind to see the goodness that lies behind every tragic experience there seem to be.
Words, when well thought of, have the power to change your mood, your day and your life.
Benefits of Moving Abroad Twice
Every time I will hear a German complain about how bad the traffic in Germany is, inside, my eyes are rolling. Clearly, this German has not been to the Philippines where going to work is already a battle.
What will this German do if he has to battle with our famous EDSA where traffic seems like it’s Oktoberfest or Carneval every single day?
First world problems.
And Germans can’t also seem to stop complaining about the weather. You’ll hear different versions of complaints every time the season will change.
In my country, you are lucky if you reached your work in the morning and not look like the homeless person begging alms on the street because of the pollution, normal 32 degree temperature, not so convenient public transportation and the bad traffic.
Traveling might change a person but living in different countries with different economic situations is so much more beneficial when it comes to personal development, being compassionate and sense of gratefulness.
Perspectives change in such a deeper way than just seeing a country for a short period of time couldn’t.
What surprised me was a Filipina chiming in to agree when complaints about the German shitty weather came up because for me, the shitty weather is the last thing I am going to complain about.
The fact that I don’t have to risk my life just to be able to go to work every single day is still one of the things that say thanks for every single morning when I open my eyes.
If you consistently battle with poverty, (mentality and financially) your motivation changes. Your perspective shifts.
If you are surrounded by things that are not so pleasant to look at, you’ll work twice as hard; for yourself and for your family. But if the only painful thing where you’ll draw profound lessons from is just from being brokenhearted, failed relationships or a job that you don’t like so much, you are the lucky one and it’s quite tricky to convince me, a poor village girl, that your complaint is valid.
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The Power to Choose
Since I have taken full responsibility of my life, I became more conscious on how I want to use my time and with whom I want to spend it with.
I have learned to avoid toxic people and remove anyone from it who doesn’t bring any joy in my life.
I refuse to be with people who complains a lot and seem to be blind to see the good in everything around.
Negative energy is contagious. If we continuously hang out with people who complains nonstop, there’s a tendency that we might agree or keep our silence to not cause any conflict. Our brain might be reshaped to thinking that it is normal and it is okay.
Rather use the time discovering your passion, your purpose, improving yourself and designing the life that you truly love instead of hanging out with this type of people and joining their club whose objective is to complain about everything.
Listen to myself talk
Being intentional trained me to be mindful which included listening to the words as I speak.
My constant self checks allowed me to categorize my depression to two and trace what really triggers my anxiety attacks. They are internal and external.
Internal is with myself and what I feel, think and fear. These are mostly because of the self limiting beliefs, fears and insecurities that I have. These, I have learned how to control and I am trying to master.
External is outside or from people whose words and actions I can never control.
Due to certain considerations (e.g. toxic poor Filipino mentality), it is quite challenging to control and sometimes driving me to the point of savagery.
The uncivilized village girl in me always wanted to confront and try to educate them. I always feared bumping into these people and it’s only yesterday that I realized how pointless that is.
They can think, act and react how they want but I will try my best to control how I react and keep my distance.
These people are still being sent my way to test me. The stars still align for us to meet for me to be able to check if I already learned what I have been trying to learn.
And being faced with uncontrollable encounters like this is the only way to test what comes out of my mouth and really listen to what I am saying when I am being caught off guard.
Like any other bad habit, it is not easy to stop complaining. For me, my eternal curiosity and wish to experience life outside my comfort zone allowed me to develop a kind of compassion that helped me quit complaining.
I figured that the only way to change the world I live in is to change myself and live the life that I keep on daydreaming about. This way, the world lost one complainer.
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