Stop the Complaining!

shame-clipart-152726101Grumpiness is so common these days. For many people it could be called a way of life. Now I understand everybody complains at times. I personally hear lots of complaining. Where I currently live, the economy is not good because of the low oil prices. I hear people grumble about the economy and most often will blame the government as if they have control over the oil markets. I hear people complain about the weather. It’s too cold, too hot, too much snow, not enough snow, too much rain, not enough rain and well you get the picture. I’ve heard people complain about their jobs, their bosses, and their families. When I taught school I heard people complain that teachers were too difficult, marked too hard, had no discipline, didn’t teach, and on and on. I even heard people grumble about all the time their children had off from school and how easy the teachers had it. Everywhere I go I hear complaining.

Now what good does complaining do? Really, no one wants to hear grumbling. Nobody really listens to you when you’re complaining nor do they feel sorry for you. So I ask again, what does complaining really do? The answer is pretty straightforward. It accomplishes nothing.

A few weeks ago I found this message in my email.

Moaning and groaning about things changes nothing, and it never does anyone any good.

The email went on to say, “If you don’t want to do anything to change it, stop complaining about it. If you can’t do anything to change it no matter how much you want to, then accept it for now and simply resolve to create a different tomorrow, but don’t let today be ruined while you are waiting.”

I think that is brilliant! Especially the line, “If you don’t want to do anything to change it, stop complaining about it.” Unless a person is willing to make changes, then you do not have the right to complain. Really, complaining is a useless activity as far as I am concerned. I know we all get on the ‘complaining bandwagon’; myself included, but is it good for us. Does it help us? I suspect not.

It’s not good for us according to the article, How Complaining Wires Your Brain for Negativity, published in Good Magazine. The article states:

“The brain is rewiring its own circuitry, physically changing itself, to make it easier and more likely that the proper synapses will share the chemical link and thus spark together—in essence, making it easier for the thought to trigger.” So essentially, the more often you complain, the more negative connections are created in your brain.”

According to the article, Top 10 Reasons Why Constant Complaining is so Toxic, it does things like:

  • Makes things look worse than they are
  • Becomes a habit
  • Attracts more negativity
  • Kills innovation
  • Promotes bad relationships

The article goes on to say that researchers of positive psychology say that people who see the world in a positive light have a long list of advantages, such as:

  • They live longer
  • They’re healthier
  • They have more friends and better social lives
  • They enjoy life more
  • They’re more successful at work

The late Dr. Wayne Dyer, a well known author and speaker, said, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” That is sound advice. Instead of focusing on the negative, start focusing on the positives. In other words, start showing gratitude for the good things in life. In fact, research is revealing that gratitude is healthy.

In the article, Why gratitude could be good for your health, published in Maclean’s Magazine, researcher Adam Anderson, a neuroscientist at Cornell University, examined the brain mechanisms of emotions. He discovered that negative experiences actually restrict humans’ ability to think in fresh ways whereas positive emotions, such as gratitude, activate neural circuits related to novel, creative thought processes. Anderson’s more recent research suggests gratitude also has the extraordinary ability to make good feelings last longer.

Positive thinking is good for you according to the article that I mentioned earlier, How Complaining Wires Your Brain for Negativity, as it says,

“The power of positive thinking has fantastic, far-reaching benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, a positive attitude can increase your life span, improve your coping skills, and give you greater resistance to the common cold. Plus, it makes you much more fun to be around.”

Criss Jami, an American poet, essayist, and existentialist philosopher, is quoted in his writings, Killosophy, as saying:

“When you aren’t satisfied with what has already been done, make something better. That is the greatest responsibility and the true freedom of creativity. The freedom is in that it doesn’t need to complain.”

Jami is bang on. If we don’t like the way things are then make some changes. Do something about it and I don’t mean complain. You are in charge of our own destiny, so stop complaining and make some changes. As Jack Welsh, American business executive and author says, “Control your destiny or somebody else will.” Or, as American motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins says, “It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” The bottom line is, stop complaining and make some changes!

Advertisements

Another Fine Man Gone

On April 9th, 2016 my father in law passed away, which is the reason you haven’t heard from me for a while. My wife’s dad was one of the kindest, most generous men that I had the privilege to know. He was always willing to help people at any time, and at any place. He helped my wife and I many times throughout our marriage for which I will always be grateful. Generosity and sharing don’t seem to be highly valued in today’s society. Society instead seems to teach us to be greedy and to be hoarders. From what I see, most people seem to be selfish with their possessions, time and money. My father in law went against the norms of our society. He was always generous with his time, money and with his possessions. By far, his strongest value was, to always help others in need.

I feel privileged and honoured to have spent his last day with him. My wife and I, along with two of his other daughters and one of his sons were privileged to spend his last day with him and to say goodbye to him. Thankfully, his two other sons were able to say their goodbyes to him earlier. We don’t always get an opportunity to say goodbye before a person leaves the earthly plane.

It amazes me how music has the ability to express exactly what a person may be feeling. At my father in law’s funeral, the musician, a good friend of my wife’s, sang the most beautiful song by Phil Coulter called, The Old Man. This song brought tears to my eyes when she sang it because it so beautifully expressed how the family felt about this man. The lyrics of the song are:

The tears have all been shed now
we´ve said our last goodbyes
His soul been blessed
He’s laid to rest
And it´s now I feel alone.
He was more than just a father
A teacher my best friend
He can still be heard
In the tunes we shared
When we play them on our own

[Chorus]
I never will forget him
For he made me “what I am”
Though he may be gone
Memories linger on
And I miss him, the old man

As a boy he’d take me walking
By mountain field and stream
And he showed me things
not known to kings
And secret between him and me
Like the colors of the pheasant
As he rises in the dawn
And how to fish and make a wish
Beside the Holly Tree

I thought he’d live forever
He seemed so big and strong
But the minutes fly
And the years roll by
For a father and a son
And suddenly when it happened
There was so much left unsaid
No second chance
To tell him thanks
For everything he’s done

Even though the song was a tribute to my father in law, it still made me think of my dad who passed away 16 years ago in March. Coulter’s lyrics, I never will forget him, for he made me “what I am”, though he may be gone, memories linger on, and I miss him, the old man. He was more than just a father, a teacher, [and] my best friend describe who my dad was for me and I know they describe who my wife’s dad was for them, which was why the family chose the song. My wife often spoke about the things her dad taught her, especially how he taught her to drive a stick shift. I’m sure the rest of the family have many memories of things their dad taught them as well. I will forever be indebted that it was her dad and her mom who made my wife who she is. She is special because her parents were special.

The song ends with the lyrics, and suddenly when it happened, there was so much left unsaid, no second chance to tell him thanks for everything he’s done. I will always be grateful, as I know my wife is, that the family had an opportunity to thank him for all he had done for them on his last day of life. A few days prior to his death, my wife wrote a letter to her dad  and was able to read it to him. In the letter she shared many of her favourite memories of him and thanked him for being her dad. Needless to say, everyone present was in tears.

On the back of my father in law’s funeral card, the family chose to insert the poem, In Memory Of My Dad by Leah Hendrie. The poem reads as follows.

If I could write a story
It would be the greatest ever told
Of a kind and loving father
Who had a heart of gold

I could write a million pages
But still be unable to say, just how
Much I love and miss him
Every single day
I will remember all he taught me
I’m hurt but won’t be sad
Because he’ll send me down the answers
And he’ll always be MY DAD

As the song did, this poem describes my feelings towards my dad. Even though he left this world 16 years ago, I believe he is still sending me answers and giving me guidance just as he did when he was still alive. My father in law also gave us guidance from time to time and I know he will continue to do so from the other side. My father in law was an inspiration and role model for his children just as my dad was for my siblings and me. His legacies will continue to inspire us.  He will always be loved and definitely will be missed.

I will forever be in awe of my wife’s oldest sister who cared for her father in recent years. She is a reflection of the kind of man her dad was. I also feel honoured to be part of a family that so generously opened up their homes as a place to stay during this sad occasion. They are truly a family that reflect the values that their father/grandfather held.

Don’t throw that away!

The CBC news article, Starbucks pledges to donate 100% of unsold food, reported that Starbucks corporation on March 23, 2016 publicized plans to eliminate food waste and donate all of its unused food items from its U.S. stores to the needy within five years. Perishable items such as breakfast sandwiches, salads, and other ready-to-eat meal packages would be donated. The company said it will add up to five million meals in its first year, and more than 50 million free meals by 2021. They plan to use an agency called Food Donation Connection (FDC) to get the items to the food banks and homeless shelters. Since 2010, Starbucks has been collecting pastries at the company’s 7,600 stores after they can no longer be sold to customers, and working with FDC to get the pastries to people who need them.

Canadian Starbucks locations will not be included in the program, but a spokesperson told CBC News that Canadian Starbucks is watching closely. Food consultancy Value Chain Management International Inc. estimates that roughly $31 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada every year. According to a Starbucks spokesperson, “In Canada we currently have measures in place to donate unused food and are working to formalize the practices so that we can maximize our efforts in this market.”

I did some research and learned that there are other companies who donate unsold food. According to an article on AME Science, Tesco is a British multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer who plans to eradicate all its food waste by 2017. They’ve started several projects to achieve this goal. It has also started selling “wonky veg” boxes, to encourage consumers to buy imperfect foods. In a 14-store pilot programme the company provided the equivalent of 50,000 meals to less fortunate people.

oranges10a
from theguardian.com

According to figures published by Tesco 55,400 tonnes of food were thrown away at its stores and distribution centres across the country in 2015. This would be the equivalent of over 125,000,000 meals, assuming all the food were edible. Even if half of it is edible, that still brings a huge amount of meals. Another article by Salon reports Tesco’s initial report found the biggest losses were in bagged salad, two-thirds of which was being discarded either in-store or by customers; it was also wasting 40 percent of apples, a quarter of grapes and a fifth of bananas.

I was curious as to why grocery stores throw out so much food although it is only 10% of the total food wasted, whereas about 14% of all household food is wasted according to davidsuzuki.org. The site says over 30 percent of fruits and vegetables in North America don’t even make it onto store shelves because they’re not pretty enough for picky consumers. According to Business Insider, the reasons why stores waste is:

  • Most grocery stores assume that customers are more likely to buy produce if it’s from a fully stocked display.
  • Customers expect perfect produce. Retailers stock their produce according to that expectation.
  • Customers don’t understand what expiration dates, sell-by dates, use-by dates, or best-by dates mean. They assume that food is no longer good after these days. Instead, sell-by dates are guidelines for sellers to indicate peak freshness. Most foods are good long after the sell-by date. Consequently, most grocery stores pull the items from the shelves several days before the sell-by date.
  • Sometimes, product packaging gets damaged during shipping, causing supermarkets to toss products even though the food hasn’t been compromised. The assumption is that no consumer is going to buy it if a faulty one is right next to it.

So why don’t all stores donate the unsold food to charities. From what I can determine, the reason is businesses fear they will be held liable should the product donated later cause harm to the recipient. It’s Interesting to note that in 1996 U.S. President Bill Clinton passed the Good Samaritan Act to encourage companies to donate healthy food that would otherwise go to the waste dump. This law protects businesses from liability when they donate to a non-profit organization. To my knowledge Canada has no such law. The province of Ontario, however has such a law called the Donation of Food Act which was passed in 1994.

clapping-hands-transparent-b-g-mdKudos to the Starbucks and Tesco corporations. I’m quite sure my research is not thorough. I’m sure there are other companies out there so I applaud any of the companies I’ve missed who donate unsold food to charities.

On August 7, 2015 I wrote a post about the France National Assembly who voted unanimously to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food.  According to the article, France pass new law forbidding food waste, large grocery stores must donate edible food to charities and allow inedible food to be used for animal feed or compost.

I have since learned that Italy is set to become the second European country to pass legislation that will pressure supermarkets to stop throwing out food waste, and instead give it to those in need. (See Italy’s about to pass law). The soon to be Italian law is slightly different from the French law in that Italy’s legislation rewards companies for donating by reducing their rubbish tax. The more food companies donate, the bigger savings they’ll receive in taxes.

Thumbs upThumbs up to the European countries of Italy and France who are making efforts to waste less food and support less fortunate people. Kudos to the United States and to the province of Ontario for passing laws that protect companies who choose  to donate food instead of throwing it out. It is time for other provinces or Canada as a whole to do the same.

smileyMy research also showed me that there are many food rescue (also known as food recovery or food salvage) organizations in Canada and the United States. These organizations glean edible food from places such as restaurants, grocery stores, produce markets, or dining facilities and distribute it to emergency food programs. The food would otherwise go to waste. In Canada there are organizations such as Second Harvest and Forgotten Harvest. In the US there is Feeding America, Food Forward and many more. I salute those charity organizations who do the right thing.

British novelist and author of the Chronicles of Narnia, once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” I am so grateful that there are people, organizations, companies and countries in this world that have integrity.