I recently had a lesson at school with my year 10 DT class (don’t ask!). In my peripherals, I watched one of my students open and close laptop after laptop in a quest to find one that actually worked. There was a build up of about six laptops and the seventh – opened up in front of her – failed to connect to the printer. Towards the end of the lesson when I turned to her and said “no luck?” She replied “no.”
I was astounded by her response and also quite ashamed of myself. Here was a bright, 14 year old girl with a fantastic work ethic who was prevented from completing a task due to circumstances out of her control. And she did not complain once. I didn’t even hear a sigh escape from her mouth or witness a roll of the eyes. Nothing. She simply got over it.
Lately, I’ve had plenty of reasons to complain – there has literally been one thing after the other! It dawned on me that there would always be cause to complain. And while justified, I’ve been complaining so much recently that I’ve grown tired of the sound of my own voice.
Maybe being British has got something to do with it? We spend three seasons of the year complaining about the cold and waiting for summer to arrive. She rocks up for that legendary week-long heatwave in July then disappears. Probably because we spent said two weeks complaining that 23 degrees celsius is too hot. And if that’s not enough, what about the squeeze of the middle class, Uber’s loss of their London licence and Theresa May’s 0.35cm kitten heels?
Recently, it dawned on me that we have call centres and whole companies back home to handle complaints; someone (who had nothing to do with the problem) is at the other end of the phone being paid a salary to listen to all of our first world problems and try to resolve them. Most of the time, there’s not really anything they can do to help but at least the complainer has been able to vent. But how helpful is that for us? Do we then become accustomed to complaining and maybe even develop a sense of entitlement?
In Abu Dhabi, there seems to be a culture which recognises that God is in control and everything happens for a reason, which is admirable. But obviously I want to be in control of everything that happens to me at all times even though that’s not the way life works. But maybe, some of these nonsensical things keep happening to me because I haven’t acquired the right attitude to be able to move on?
I believe the phrase is ‘new level, new devil’ and here are some personal examples: I moved abroad to paradise but I’m missing my sister’s 30th birthday (and relocation is bleeding expensive); I recently bought a new car, now I’ve got to maintain it; I’m currently eating some traditional Ghanaian cuisine for the first time since being in the UAE but I’ve stained my top with shito due to my enthusiasm…
There’s always going to be something to complain about but who wants to live their lives focusing on all of the negatives? Certainly not me. Life is far too short.
Instead of complaining, I should be appreciative of and grateful for the things I do have in my life. Like never ending sunshine. And two bidets in my apartment. And Lebanese bread for one dirham.