I remember being in the Inquirer office—I must have been in my late teens or early 20s—and I was being my usual, noisy self when Ma’m Chelo, then Inquirer Lifestyle editor, turned her chair to me and loudly admonished: “You are so whiny!”
That shut me up.
Since then I’ve been self-conscious about my complaining because I do agree that I could be irritatingly whiny most of, if not all, the time. I thought I have tempered that side of me—this is one of those bad traits so deeply ingrained that I lack the self-awareness to catch myself 100-percent of the time—but I’ve become increasingly aware (again) of my whining since I started attending CrossFit.
I still wince at the thought of how during our introductory week, I proclaimed that “I hate yoga” as we were stretching and doing our cool downs. For context, it was a few weeks after I did try yoga, so it came from experience. Nevertheless, while it elicited laughs in the class, the coach had to gently explain the benefits of stretching, and I felt so juvenile for having made the comment in the first place.
Or when after one of those numbing workouts, the coach would ask the class how we’re feeling and we’d all reply simultaneously and I would be the lone person to say, “brutal” as everyone else chirps in, “great,” “awesome,” et cetera. I’ve learned to bite my tongue more judiciously, until last week, when we had to hold our squats repeatedly in time with this song—it was about 3 or 4 minutes long and I kept cursing under my breath. By the end of that, I let out a loud “worst song ever,” while the rest were giving themselves high fives. Yikes.
Needless to say, I have a lot more work to do. I’m also aware that it takes more than holding back my comments. I need to re-wire my thinking and learn to think positively.
While I’ve been thinking about this, two films I saw on Netflix last night reinforced this idea. The first is Be Here Now, a documentary on Spartacus: Blood and Sand star Andy Whitfield, who battled lymphoma for almost two years. I have a general idea of Andy’s story, having watched the first season of his gladiator TV show, but wow—still, that docu reduced me to a puddle of tears. Here was a Welsh actor with a beautiful family, who finally made it into Hollywood, and boom, cancer. (And by the way, he was extremely beautiful-looking, easily one of God’s perfect creations—to Christians who feel compelled to nitpick on that statement, see aardvark. Or this. You get the point.)
What got me the most was when he was talking to the camera after he learned that the chemotherapy was not working. “And people are complaining about zits; I have cancer,” he says and the fact that he’s done EVERYTHING—chemo, radiotherapy, alternative medicine, yoga, meditation therapy—to battle the disease makes every little complaint we have so minute and trivial.
The second is Amy Schumer: The Leather Special, where toward the end, she discusses her weight and how the media point out how fat she is. She responds that her father has multiple sclerosis and is on a wheelchair, and the fact the she can mooove and feel sexy and healthy is a cause for celebration itself. Of course, she delivers it so funnily.
PS: There are two opposing schools of thought on this: The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking:
“But constant negativity can also get in the way of happiness, add to our stress and worry level and ultimately damage our health.”
“Why doesn’t positive thinking work the way you might assume? As my colleagues and I have discovered, dreaming about the future calms you down, measurably reducing systolic blood pressure, but it also can drain you of the energy you need to take action in pursuit of your goals.”