Word-Of-the-Week #782: Reaction

August 1, 2019 by  

Reactionwhat you feel, say, or do because of something that has happened or experienced. 

How much do you grumble or complain about life’s daily interruptions? How conscious are you of your positive and negative thoughts and statements?

This LA Times article “Purge your complaints and refresh” by Sara Cagle is spot on.

“If we all wore digital complaint trackers throughout the day — much like the Fitbits and similar devices that religiously count every step we walk — we’d probably be surprised by how much we moan about life’s daily irritations:

“Traffic is ruining my mornings!”

“My date last night was terrible. I’ll be single forever.”

“I still can’t believe how rude that salesperson was to me three years ago.”

But learning how to eliminate those constant, persistent grumblings might be the first crucial step toward mindfulness. It’s called complaint cleansing.

“What happens when we complain is that we are basically training our brain to look at things that we’re not happy about,” said Kaia Roman, a Santa Cruz-based writer and the author of “The Joy Plan: How I Took 30 Days to Stop Worrying, Quit Complaining, and Find Ridiculous Happiness.”

Adds Roman: “When we make a conscious choice to focus on solutions, to focus on things that we do right, the good in life and positive aspects, we actually start changing the neural pathways in our brains to be more optimistic. Then we start to experience life differently.”

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Roman said she decided to try a week-long complaint cleanse four years ago at a point when she felt her anxiety and negative thoughts controlled her mind. After those seven days, her anxiety improved, so she decided to keep it up.

“So many of us complain on a regular basis without realizing that we’re doing it,” she said. “When you do a complaint cleanse, you have to be super aware of what you’re thinking and what you’re speaking.”

The first step of a complaint cleanse is to listen to yourself.

That’s the advice of Deepak Chopra, a bestselling author and co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. “Whenever you feel that you’re criticizing or condemning or complaining or playing the victim, the first thing is to press the pause button in your mind and actually be a witness to how you’re going to react to the situation,” Chopra said in a recent interview. “If you do that enough, you will realize that your range of options in any situation, in any adversity, in any circumstance is actually infinite. Slowly this will start to influence your life so that you’re not a victim, but a creator.”

A complaint cleanse, says Jovon Bernal, is “just you being still with your thoughts, noticing them and noticing how they make you feel and where they’re coming from.”

When a complaint inevitably does pop into your head during the cleanse, try not to get frustrated with yourself, said Jovon Bernal, a meditation teacher and owner of Downey Yoga. Simply notice the thought without judgment.

“There’s a difference between, ‘That’s bad that I’m thinking that’ and ‘Oh, I wonder why I feel that way?’” Bernal said. “There has to be that process of reflection. That’s where a lot of the growth comes from.”

If that kind of self-awareness sounds similar to meditation, that’s because it is. Meditation is about noticing your thoughts without judgment, then using your breath, a mantra or another technique to bring your mind back to the present. Similarly, complaint cleansing challenges you to acknowledge your negative thoughts — then switch them around to something you feel good about in the present.

That means that if you’ve ever been skeptical of your ability to meditate, Bernal said, a complaint cleanse might make you feel more confident.”

This week’s focus is on reaction. Have you ever heard the saying, “What you think about, you bring about?” Have you ever made a conscious effort to listen to how much you complain vs saying how grateful you. How would it feel to try a “complaint cleanse?”

Stay tuned for the 2nd half next week!

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