We are pretty lucky to be living in this day and age. It wasn’t really so long ago that gender roles were a lot more defined and socially entrenched, conscription to the armed forces was mandatory, and only the elite were able to afford education. Homosexuality was not at all tolerated, interracial marriages meant that you were possibly ostracised from your family and social network, falling pregnant outside of marriage resulted in forced adoption, and divorce was out of the question.
In some countries in the world, some of these things still exist, but largely in the first world we have the freedom to make choices on a lot of the things that affect our happiness. We have the choice to marry the person we love, whether they be a different race or a different “class”, instead of someone that is chosen for us by our parents*. If we’re financially able, we have the choice to either rejoin the work force after children or be a stay-at-home parent, and this goes for men and women.
We have the choice to end an unhappy marriage instead of staying in an unloving or abusive relationship. We have the choice to marry the one we love, or choose to co-habit, and just because you chose to have children before you got married doesn’t mean that you are a charlatan. We have the choice to further our education if we want, and we have the choice to quit our jobs if we don’t see our careers progressing. And we have the choice to openly communicate our issues with our partners, family or colleagues instead of being silenced.
The point is that life is full of choices. Some things we can’t control, like having annoying family, or a metabolism that slows with age, or greying hair, but we have the choice to deal with these issues how we see best.
I’m not a big believer in fate or destiny or God’s will. I firmly believe that we make many of the decisions in our life that ultimately determine our happiness. Every time I catch myself whining, I try to think about the choices that are available to me, because most of the time I have the power to choose an outcome (and although having a vent is deeply cathartic and satisfying, it doesn’t solve anything!). It’s just a matter of having the courage and conviction to ultimately make the decision, and persistence and support to see it through.
Find yourself whining about how stressful, unfulfilling or demotivating your job is? You make the choice every day to turn up to work, so instead, make the choice to find a new job or talk to your manager about your objectives or long term goals.
Find yourself in an unhappy relationship? You make the choice every day to stay in it, so instead, make the choice to end it and find someone that will respect you and make you happy.
See a flabby person looking back at you in the mirror? You make the choice every day to just sit on your arse when you don’t do anything. Instead, make the choice to join the gym, walk instead of taking the car, and cut back on fast food.
Feel like you never spend quality time with your friends and family? Make the choice to stop watching so much reality television (it’s all rigged you know!) and instead meet up with your friends for a coffee or drop by your parents’ house for dinner more often.
So whenever you feel the urge to whine by all means have a vent, but if you find yourself doing it often, think about what you can do to take control of the situation. You have more control than you think; it just requires discipline, self-discipline and persistence.
* Marrying someone of the same gender is still not legal in some countries but debate has started and I believe that this will happen in this lifetime in Australia
** Image courtesy of stock.xchng