We’ve all met them at some point. The person who isn’t happy unless they’ve got something to be upset about. Gas prices. A slow traffic light. Road construction. The weather. Politics. Food that’s too spicy or too bland or too something. They walk around sporting a frown and a wrinkled nose at someone else’s choice of fashion or music. Even on vacation, it seems they just watch the world around them until the moment comes when they can pounce. Aha! Something to complain about.

Okay, so that might be a tad extreme, but you get the point. While some folks are optimists looking for the silver lining, others are natural complainers. They wish things were different and instead of actually doing something about it (or accepting the truth that some things are simply out of our control), they use their energy broadcasting their opinions until they’ve drained the life out of everyone else around them.

However, the antithesis of relentless complaining is gratitude.

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, my mind has already been drifting toward things I’m thankful for. But a quick glance over my growing list made me realize that some of the same things that bring me joy are also potential sources of dissatisfaction and conflict.

Take family for a simple example. I’m thankful to be married with three kids and to live close enough to the extended family for frequent visits. Still, who hasn’t had a day when their husband or children drive them up the wall until you just wish you lived alone for a day? It’s hard to always have a spirit of gratitude when tempted to complain about the noise and clutter and messes and arguments etc. instead.

That’s where contentment plays such a critical role. While I’m not opposed to striving for excellence in all I do, there’s certainly a difference between trying to do my best and dwelling on all the things I don’t have or can’t accomplish. Even worse is when I start comparing my life and talents with the air-brushed images of another on Facebook or Instagram. Yuck.

Contentment.

Being satisfied to my core by the blessings I have been given. Knowing that at the heart of things here on Earth, it is well with my soul because I’m in right relationship with the Creator. Trusting that He will provide all that I need and walk beside me through any trial. Keeping my focus on the important things in life and letting all the trivial nuisances just float on by.

This season, I’ll be doing my best to focus on contentment and the gratitude that naturally flows as a result. Still, I know I’ll inevitably be rubbing shoulders with a chronic complainer or two, so I’m making it a game to turn their complaint into something to be thankful for.

What about you? Are you naturally a pessimist or an optimist? Does it depend on the weather or the company you’re around? If someone was to complain about gas prices during the holidays, how would you turn that into a positive?

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