Here’s a fun trick to try: Go an entire day without complaining or indeed saying anything negative. Nothing. Don’t criticize a politician’s shrewdness, gripe about your teen’s slovenliness, or knock your home team’s lack of clutch play. Nothing.
Don’t even put down things. The car is running sluggishly? Keep it to yourself. Lousy weather? Move on.
It will be a very quiet day. Except for the sound of your teeth gnashing.
This is hard. I tried it once. The most difficult but best part of this discipline is that it made me conscious of every word that came out of my mouth. That’s not a bad thing, given Jesus’s words that “the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man.” (Mt 15:18)
It’s a tremendous truth that, unfettered, my mouth will eventually spew forth all the rancor and ingratitude that I have stored up in my heart of hearts.
Even better, rather than trying to avoid the negative, develop a positive discipline and “give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thess 5:18) Find something to be thankful for in every circumstance of your day. Traffic jam? Be thankful for a moment to think. Food prices too high? Could be worse; at least you have some.
When you stop and think about it, there’s no reason to complain about anything. Someone always has it worse off than me. All but one person, at least. By definition, one poor slob has it worse than anyone else on the face of the earth. We’ll let that guy off the hook for this one.
By the way, that ain’t you.
T. S. Eliot has been quoted as saying, “Good poets borrow, great poets steal.” May I extend that to blogging? The “negative fast” concept was stolen from the wonderful devotional book, “A Spiritual Formation Workbook” by James Bryan Smith and Richard Foster. The book is a rich source of such disciplines as well as lots of other wisdom.