I've gone through an interesting process when it comes to listening to complaints from other people, regarding the variety of happenings, third persons, arrangements, or decisions, which they think should be other than they are at the present moment.
When I was new to Al-Anon, I would listen intently and often agree, because I was full of my own righteous indignation. How dare other people, drivers on my morning commute, politicians, family members, (anyone really) behave in a way I disliked? The nerve!
I was out on the rooftop patio this morning admiring my plants, then sitting facing the sun and talking to my Higher Power, expressing my gratitude for this lovely day, and opening my eyes, saw something which one of the residents is doing, which is driving some of other residents to "grow a resentment." I had this pointed out to me last week, by one of the annoyed people, and I fear that my response was not what she might have wished it to be. Instead of leaping to agree and condemn, I said, "Ahh." She waited for a moment, then looked at me with an expression of astonishment upon her face - I had to fight to not laugh, because it was so clear that she had been expecting something considerably more impassioned than a quiet "Ahh."
She reinforced her point with a statement something like: "It's outrageous! Something should be done about this immediately!" My response was silence, a polite smile, and a nod registering that she had spoken. She gave up on me and saying goodbye rather curtly, walked back into the building. I wandered over to my plants, and stood contemplating them in quiet appreciation. I derive nourishment for my soul from their leaping vigor and grace. Soon, they will bloom, and I will be rapt, as I am each year when this happens - I hope I never lose my ability to be thrilled by a blossom.
Years ago a friend of my ex was visiting, and they were standing outside chatting while I weeded my front flower garden. All at once I noticed that a plant I'd been waiting anxiously to bloom had opened its first flower, a delicate lacy pale blue confection, frilled and pleated and breathtakingly beautiful. I exclaimed with delight, loudly enough to be overheard. My ex told me later that his friend had wondered how, with so many flowers in the garden, I could get so excited by one more.
Al-Anon has made this attitude possible. The cultivation of an "attitude of gratitude," when practised over a period of many years, changes one's entire view of the world. From a place in which one is being exposed to the worst of human nature, and all the evils to which man falls prey, are visited upon us daily via news reports and newspapers exclaiming that the world is going to the dogs, and to hell in a handbasket, and we are all doomed and are going to have to change everything, only it's too late and we won't be able to do it because things have gone too far wrong, and it's all hopeless, from that terrible negative outlook, we move to a simple gratitude. I couldn't understand what was meant by simple gratitude. Why did the word "gratitude" always have to be prefaced by "simple?"
I now understand that for me, simplicity is a spiritual practise. I can complicate, I can confuse, I can drive myself to distraction imagining all sorts of hideous outcomes if I allow fear to overwhelm me. When I can detach from fear, from other people, from my own ego, and align myself, open myself to my Higher Power, I make it possible for the connection to occur.
I take a step away from the complications of life, and towards the blessing of simplicity. As with so much of life - my choice.