Oddly, having a blog post titled prayers to the devil seems rather fitting on a Monday. Before you fear this has anything to do with evoking the dark lord, let me reassure you that is not what we are speaking about here today. What we are going to talk about is complaints which Bob Marley referred to as ‘prayers to the devil’. Which I must confess I find a fairly accurate description.

Are complaints really that bad? Let us stop and take a look. Frist, so we are all on the same page, let us define what a complaint is. To me a complaint is a negative observation about a person, place or thing with no intent on finding a solution or remedy. This is different from merely observing a situation that needs improving and voicing that while pondering what can be done to make the situation better. Forms of complaining can range from mood-killing banter to gossip. Yes, gossip is a form of complaining. I don’t recall every hearing negative gossip about someone that included a plan to assist them in getting better.

Are they really so bad we should compare them to the devil? What do complaints do? By voicing their negative opinions out loud it increases the focus on the person sharing them. We all know where focus goes, energy flows. Therefore, the persons negative mood will only increase as they share this negativity with others. What about the others? Hearing what is wrong in the lives of people they know can at the very least kill the good vibe buzz one might be feeling. If the person receiving the complaint is already in a bad mood it will only serve to sink them further. As you can see complaining will only serve to foster a negative atmosphere. If you think of something that can poison the souls of most it is shared with and bring the one sharing even lower, I can’t imagine many things worse.

Understand I am not saying if you see something you do not like, or have a bad experience that you have to keep it to yourself. Not at all. What I am saying is when you tell someone about it, think about why you are. Let’s say someone is asking your opinion on an Italian restaurant you don’t care for. Instead of saying, “That place sucks!” or worse beginning to list everything you dislike about it, try following it with a solution. Wouldn’t you rather hear this? “I didn’t really like that place, but the bistro down the street is really good.”

We all know people that when asked, “How is it going?” will proceed to offer a list of every social and medical malady they have faced since the age of five. How do you feel after even a brief conversation with someone like that? On occasions when I have the unfortunate circumstance to converse with someone who is determined to find the cloud in a blue sky there are two things I do. First, I turn it into a game to avoid their feelings rubbing off on me. I ask them what is good in their life at the moment. Sometimes I point out things that they have to be grateful they may have overlooked. If the situation seems right I may even share one of my corny jokes with them. Then, I go directly home and take a shower. Now I am keenly aware that the shower does not actually wash the emotions from my being, but as the water flows over my skin I close my eyes and imagine the negativity flowing off me. Some days that is enough, some days I have to exfoliate.

We all have times we need to vent and get things out of our system. I am as guilty as the next person. When you are done, however, consider what can be done to change what you are lamenting. If you can’t think of anything ask for a solution and focus on something to be grateful for while you are awaiting an answer. Think of how listening to complaints make you feel before you share them with others. Remember where your focus goes, your energy flows.


This thought comes from a Christian Theologian who died in 1328. It is as promised a way to bring control to your mind as well as joy to your life. Whatever our faith may be we often seem most inclined to pray when we are in peril or in need of something. How many of us can honestly say we make a daily habit of taking time out of our busy day to pause and just say thank you to God, the universe or whatever our faith may lead us to? Even those like myself, who have witnessed the amazing power of gratitude do not do this often enough.

This is my challenge for you today, take no more than 5 minutes in a quite place alone and say thank you for all you are grateful for. While you are doing so I would like you to think and feel the gratitude of what you are being thankful for. What if you can’t find 5 minutes worth of things to be thankful for? That’s ok, just focus on the one or two things for 5 minutes. Notice when you are done how you feel. You can even try this in the restroom at work on a stressful day. Try it before bed and notice how sound you sleep. Try it as soon as you wake up and see what kind of feeling follows you all day long.

No matter what faith you follow, the words of this Christian theologian can serve you well. Remembering to offer thanks for what we do have instead of requests for what we don’t can change our lives immensely.

Using the gifts you have despite the challenges you face

Funny how a lot of things come full circle. I started writing blog posts for an online paper called ‘The Patch’ a few years back. One of the first stories I did was about a lady who was a regular visitor to the local coffee shop in the village I was working in. It has been two years since the post office has seen fit to move me to a different location. This past Saturday I was filling in at that very station again. I decided to stop by the coffee shop to see a good friend of mine who usually works there on Saturdays. Turns out she was off, but I did run into the very lady I had written a post about two years ago. If you did not follow me a few years ago let me recap the story of this lady and if you did let me update you on where life finds her at this time. Her name is Michelle. She is a middle aged woman of a smaller stature. She is a mentally challenged individual who does not drive, is unable to hold down a “real job”. She lived with her parents as she was unable to survive on her own. Every day I would see her walking up and down the streets of the little village whether the temperature was 90 degrees or 9 degrees. Finally one day our paths crossed while I was on lunch and I asked her what she was doing walking up and down the streets. Her answer was simple, yet powerful and blew me away. “Looking for people who need help” she told me. I must have had a look that bordered between surprise and confusion. Sensing I wasn’t totally grasping what she meant she went on to explain. “I know I am not the smartest person in the world, but God has given me the mission of helping people” She went on to explain that when she finds someone who is down on her luck she will sit and pray with them. Knowing how uncomfortable that can make some people I asked her if anyone had ever objected and if so what did she do. She said some people tell her to leave them alone or that they are not interested. She told me she then continues on and as she does prays for them. As she explained to me “they don’t have to know I am praying for them to have it help them”. I couldn’t help but thinking if I offered somebody emotional support and they told me to leave them alone would my first reaction be to pray for them? She left me by saying a prayer for me right there in the coffee shop. Although her faith and mine are not exactly the same I was struck by the power of her faith and her public display of it as well as her love of her fellow humans on this planet. So here I was two years later and I asked her what was new in her world. She explained to me that her parents had passed away and she had to move to a different city with a caregiver. She informed me that she had joined a new church in that area and volunteered in several different groups. She also said that at least twice a month she had her caregiver drop her off in that same village so she could “check on everyone” I was struck by a few points here. This lady is somebody that our society has deemed unfit to even hold a job, much less live on their own. She is faced with daily challenges I cannot even begin to imagine. If she were to fall on a path of drug abuse or homelessness nobody could blame her. Still this woman who some would say was barely able to help herself has devoted her life to helping others in any way she can. Do the rest of us follow the same path or do we complain about every little thing that is not going according to plan in our lives?  This week it is time to look for opportunities to help others. To make a difference. If a middle-aged woman with limited means and mental ability can use her amazingly large heart to bring such an amazing difference why can’t you and I?