I’ll never understand why it seems to be human nature to find it easier to complain than to praise. Maybe that’s a bit of a poor generalization, maybe it’s just the crabby old person starting to come out in me. But you’ll have to agree that most of us are quick to jump all over a person or place that has dissatisfied us, yet we keep to ourselves any positive experiences we have. This best shows itself in the increasing multitude of lawsuits being filed over any little thing, and the fact that malpractice insurance costs for physicians are starting to scare prospective medical students away.
So I try to retrain myself, to get out of the Pavlovian response of only letting my dissatisfaction show. Now I try to think of instances where I could share a kind word or two about something or someone who has made my day. After my trip to Chicago in 2009, I came home, remembering how enjoyable the whole experience was; from the person at the hotel who helped me when I needed a cab, to the friendly and informative people manning the Hop On, Hop Off trolley that took me all around town. So I sent words of thanks to these places and others, telling them what a great job they did. It felt good to share some joy, and I could almost feel the happiness in the recipients of my messages. Positive energy all around; much healthier than the other side of the coin.
And I must have rubbed this off on my daughter in some way, as she related to me a story about going on a frustrating search for just the right pair of jeans. Now granted, my daughter has literally a multitude of jeans in her closet, and her husband must have been shaking his head (lovingly, of course) as she set out to find a new pair or two for their upcoming honeymoon. She told me how she wandered through the mall, going to store after store, looking for flared leg jeans and not the skinny leg jeans that are so prevalent. Finally, at the last store she checked, there they were – tables and racks full of jeans with the perfect flared leg – she told me was a madwoman as she filled the fitting room with a mountain of jeans. Out of all this craziness she managed to find two pair that met her stringent guidelines. She went home a happy fashionista.
She told me that after she came home, full of the joy of a very successful shopping expedition, she was moved to write an e-mail to the company that saved her from a fashion meltdown. In doing this she hoped that the company will know how satisfying it was to have just what she was looking for, and how helpful the employees were.
Of course there are times when we need to go down the other road, to voice our complaints or to make known our unhappiness so that others may be spared. But let’s not forget how easy it is to go down the path of saying “wow, thanks for doing such a great job and making me happy”. It takes the same amount of energy to write words of praise as it does words of complaint, and I’d rather see more of that positive energy floating around in our world.