Spirit of complaining

One morning an old Cherokee Indian was talking with his grandson. Actually, his grandson was complaining about “life”. “Oh, my grandson!” – said the old Cherokee Indian – “if the energy that people spend on complaining, was spent instead on anything constructive, for sure there would be less problems in this world.” “But, if people help me with my problems rather than bother me, life would be easier” – said the grandson objecting.

“Listen grandson” – said the Cherokee calmly – “every problem in the world stems from selfishness and greed, from pride and lack of humility” and after a brief pause, he concluded: “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”

This anecdote full of popular wisdom can help us to live our human lives better. According to this story, there are two ways to live our life: the option of the grandson or the option of the grandfather, meaning the spirit of complaining or the spirit of improving. The first one blames others for his problems, the second one tries to be a better person each day.

When we complain, we place the control of what happens to me on something external that I cannot control.  Therefore, if it does not depend on me, why should I do anything to try to improve it? This is why complaining is opposed to improving.

What is the problem with the spirit of complaining? As the book of Proverbs says, the main problem is that complaints sadden instead of rejoicing (cf. Prov 17:22), no one who complains is happier after complaining. The spirit of complaining saddens the one who complains and the ones who listen to the complaint. 

Even more, as St. Paul says, the spirit of complaining kills: Do not grumble as some of them did, and suffered death by the destroyer (1 Cor 10:10). On a personal natural level, it kills positivity, it kills enthusiasm, it kills initiative, it kills our health (both physical and psychological), etc. On a social level, it kills love of others, it kills our capacity to socialize, it kills our relationship with others: family, work, friends, etc. On a supernatural level, it kills our faith, it kills our relationship with God, it kills the grace of God, etc.

How can we overcome the spirit of complaining? First of all, it is important to understand the damage that it produces in our life. We usually see complaints as a way of releasing our negativity or bad feelings.  We feel as if we need to complain. However, if we pay attention to the effects of the complaint, we will see that our negativity or bad emotions do not disappear. Bad emotions are not gotten rid of by complaining, but actually they usually increase.

Second, try to be positive. Positivity helps to overcome problems, to find solutions to the problems, to be creative, to take the initiative for the situation. It helps us to talk to others who do something wrong with love rather than annoyance.

Third and most importantly, we should see things that affect us in a negative way as part of the providential plan of God for our sanctification, which means to see them as something positive. We need crosses in order to grow in holiness. Holiness develops from the cross of Jesus in our lives; without the cross there is no holiness.

Daily homily


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